THIRTY TWO YEARS OF HISTORY
The corporate trade union structure inherited from the fascism period and followed by most of the trade unions until 1977/78 has prevented the resolution of the big and serious problems of the metal workers. The maintenance of the General assemblies, with well designed manipulation schemes, prevented any worker to express his opinion or to suggest any change to what was proposed by the board, being quite sure of the threats, the insults and even aggressions.
As a result a huge number of the metalworkers, that through the years never gave up of fighting to be heard, has decided to stop this process completely opposite to democracy, morality and justice.
Several meetings were promoted in order to debate the most important problems of the class and where were defined some of the action guiding lines that could be pointed out as an alternative to the corporate structure and practice pursued by the Intersindical of those days. It started to be designed the programme lines of a new trade union’s statutes consecrating the feeling and the wanting of the majority of the metalworkers. This movement has been, later on, extended to the rest of the country through working groups that were constituted with that single purpose. As a logical consequence, it emerged the idea of creating a vertical trade union, at national level.
In order to give continuity to the deliberations of a bigger and bigger number of metalworkers, a provisional directing commission has been elected and it has distributed, through the whole country, the statutes in order to promote its discussion and amendments. Once approved the provisional statutes, they were sent to the Labour Ministry which has published them in the official journal – Bulletin No 25, of 8th July 1978.
These new statutes proposed a new structure characterised by the replacement of the existing General Assembly by the Congress, within which would be elected the bodies of the trade union to be constituted. The provisional directing commission would have, then, 90 days to proceed with the election, at national level, of the delegates to the SIMA’s constituent Congress.
SIMA´S FIRST CONGRESS
On the occasion of SIMA’s first Congress it counted already with more than 36.000 affiliates, at national level. It has been this huge initial mobilisation that allowed the Congress to be an historical milestone for the Portuguese trade union movement, in general, and for the metalworkers in particular.
After two days of an intense and open debate, the 300 delegates present, coming from all the country’s districts, approved the Statutes and the trade union Strategy’s Document and elected the direction bodies of the Sindicato das Indústrias Metalúrgicas e Afins – SIMA – the first vertical trade union in Portugal.
SIMA has been also a founder member of UGT – Workers General Union and it is also an EMF (European Metalworkers’ Federation) member and IMF (International Metalworkers’ Federation) member since SIMA’s constitution.
In 2003, due to a change in the statutes, SIMA has enlarged its’ action scope, and now it covers all the workers that, regardless their profession or category, work in all the fields of industry, services and related, or in any field close to those, due to the technologic evolution.
SIMA’s maximal body is the Congress, constituted by a group of delegates elected direct and secretly, according with d’Hont criteria.
Of the several competencies of the Congress, that reunites, ordinarily, every four years, it is pointed out the election of the General Secretary, the National General Secretary, the Finances Committee and the Disciplinary Committee. The Executive Commission is the Executive body by excellence.
SIMA’s structure lies down, directly, in the companies, and it constitutes the basis for the workers’ unity towards the discussion of their problems. The principles followed by SIMA do not allow the passive acceptation of solutions but the open and active participation of all the trade union movement towards the wide mobilisation of all the workers.
The democratic trade union principles rule SIMA’s action, aiming the creation of a strong and independent trade union movement. SIMA proposes to fight, together with all democratic trade union organisations, national and foreign, to obtain the liberation of the workers according the principles of work and trade union solidarity, at international level.
Immediately after the Congress’ realisation it has been initiated the organisation phase. It has was possible, counting with the effort of the workers affiliated, to organise a national strong and in expansion structure, providing it with means towards the intransigent defence of the affiliated workers and workers in general.
Ever since SIMA has been strengthen its position, not only at national level, a the biggest trade union, as at European and international level, showing that the project, initiated in the end of the 70’s, has became a, unquestionable reality and it is, presently, as always has been, a trade union that defends and supports the workers of the sectors covered.
SIMA is presently implemented from north to south of the country, counting with a strong organisation in the biggest companies in the country.
For that reason we actively participate in the collective bargaining, negotiating the most important collective agreements of the different sectors: metal, shipbuilding and repairing, transports, metal mechanic, electric and electronic, chemical, car, goldsmith and watch makers, wood, cement, textile, defence, fuel, communication, food, paper, as well as at company level, where qualified people negotiate the collective agreement at company level.
We promote Training, not only trade union training as also in so many different areas, to all our affiliates, trying to respond to the needs that are presented to us.
We aim innovation, and for that reason we have a wide range of benefits, from legal support to our affiliates to different discounts in many, many establishments, medical, commercial, leisure, sports, among others, that we offer to our affiliates.