Construction and real estate employers set up new confederation
Employer organisations in the construction and real estate sectors have decided to create their own confederation rather than continue as members of the Portuguese Confederation of Industry (CIP). This move follows the departure of a large construction employer organisation from CIP at the end of 2007. The new Confederation of Construction and Real Estate aims to be a new social partner, representing ‘the most important sector of the national economy’.
At the beginning of June 2009, the employer organisations in the construction and real estate sectors publicised their plan to create their own confederation, which will be named the Confederation of Construction and Real Estate (Confederação da Construção e do Imobiliário, CCI).
The new confederation will include employer organisations and trade associations of the construction and real estate sectors. Statutes of the new confederation are being prepared. Its founding members comprise the:
- Portuguese Federation of the Construction Industry and Public Works (Federação Portuguesa da Indústria da Construção e Obras Públicas, FEPICOP);
- Association of Professionals and Companies of Real Estate Agents of Portugal (Associação dos Profissionais e Empresas de Mediação Imobiliária de Portugal, APEMIP);
- Portuguese Association for Retailers of Building Materials (Associação Portuguesa dos Comerciantes de Materiais de Construção, APCMC);
- Portuguese Association of Engineering and Management Consultants (Associação Portuguesa de Projectistas e Consultores, APPC);
- Portuguese Association of Real Estate Developers and Investors (Associação Portuguesa de Promotores e Investidores Imobiliários, API).
Tensions with existing confederation
The creation of the new employer confederation follows the departure of one of the most important organisations of the sector, FEPICOP, from the Confederation of Portuguese Industry (Confederação da Indústria Portuguesa, CIP) at the end of 2007. Up until then, CIP had encompassed all branches of the manufacturing and construction sectors. However, FEPICOP decided to leave CIP after diverging opinions were expressed in relation to a public statement issued by the CIP President, Francisco van Zeller, who declared that the construction industry was the sector where tax evasion was most prevalent.
According to the outgoing President of FEPICOP, Manuel Reis Campos, the new confederation
aims to be a social partner on its own, representing the most important sector of the national economy at national and international level. The construction industry contributes 5.5% of GDP [gross domestic product], representing half of the national investment and around 500,000 workers.
The announcement of the plan to set up a new employer confederation, representing the construction and real estate sectors, will be a significant challenge to CIP. The move will weaken this powerful confederation and put an end to the dominant position in Portuguese industry that CIP has had over the last 35 years.
Moreover, the move promotes further differentiation and decentralisation of employers’ national-level organisations, a process that might have implications in the future for the composition of the Standing Commission for Social Concertation (Comissão Permanente de Concertação Social, CPCS). This process was initiated in 1995 with the creation of the Portuguese Confederation of Tourism (Confederação do Turismo Português, CTP), which entered the CPCS in 2003, joining the three employer confederations already represented since the formation of the standing commission in 1984. Those three organisations were CIP, the Portuguese Trade and Services Confederation (Confederação do Comércio e Serviços de Portugal, CCP) and the Confederation of Portuguese Farmers (Confederação dos Agricultores de Portugal, CAP). Eventually, CCI might redefine the balance of power among the employer organisations, as the construction and real estate sectors have a remarkable capacity for lobbying.
Maria da Paz Campos Lima, Dinâmia