Elections in the largest union affiliated to UGT

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In elections held in April 1997, a joint list of socialist and communist trade unionists narrowly won control of Portugal's South and Islands Banking Union (Sindicato dos Bancários do Sul e Ilhas, SBSI), which will continue to be affiliated to the General Workers' Union (União Geral de Trabalhadores, UGT).

The elections, which took place on 22 April 1997, confirmed the interest with which they had been followed by the labour movement (PT9703111N). Their importance lay in the fact that the Southern and Islands Banking Union (SBSI) is the largest trade union affiliated to the UGT confederation, and the UGT depends greatly on its contributions for its own financial welfare. They were also important because, after nine years at the head of the SBSI, the socialist/communist alliance was once again fighting the elections, although this time the socialist trade union tendency was itself divided.

While the previous socialist leader of the union brought together a joint list of socialists and social democrats (List B), his former colleague in the union's leadership and the socialists' number two headed a joint list with the communist union tendency (List A). A third union grouping (known as the extreme left, List C) stood once again.

The results of the elections for the executive committee of the SBSI were as follows:

Total membership 49,635
Votes for List A 11,321
Votes for List B 10,393
Votes for List C 2,039
Blank votes 989
Spoilt papers 314

The percentage turnout was therefore slightly over 50%. In the previous election, the rate of abstention was 46.4%. On this occasion, abstention was mainly amongst retired members and in companies with a weaker density of trade union membership.

The new president of the SBSI has already stated that the union will remain affiliated to the UGT, but that it would participate on the national executive only if it was so elected at the forthcoming UGT congress.

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