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Spain – 'High risk' construction closed again for temporary agencies

30 March 2011

In a new collective bargaining agreement, unions (Fecoma-CCOO and MCA-UGT) and employers (CNC and Confemetal), have effectively closed the door again, which the government has only just opened for temporary employment agencies in the construction sector. Unions and employers have agreed to ban temporary employment agencies again from 'high risk' areas such as construction sites and high voltage electricity.

Among other labour market reforms, Parliament voted in September 2010 to open up industries classified as 'high risk' as well as the public sector to temporary employees. This legislative relaxation was an inevitable outcome of the EU Agency Workers Directive which obliges Member States to review any restrictions or prohibitions on the use of temporary agency work in order to verify whether they are justified by 5 December 2011.

One permissable justification that can be used to retain a prohibition is "the requirements of health and safety at work". It is interesting, therefore, to see that while the Spanish government itself no longer sees any need to prohibit the use of temporary agency workers in the construction sector, social partners have taken a different view.

In construction, the new agreement limits all activities, which temporary employees could carry out on a construction site and which involve physical risk. Whilst this is only a partial ban for temporary employees, some regard it as a total ban because it will be extremely difficult to work out what precisely temporary employees will be allowed to do.

In the high voltage industry, temporary employees will not be allowed to work on the installation and maintenance of high voltage cables and equipment.

A spokesman for the MCA-UGT union commented "this takes us back to normality. Without the agreement, the labour market reform would have allowed temporary employees to work in extremely dangerous areas without any form of distinction."

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