National Confederation of Labor

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

National Confederation of Labor


(Confederación Nacional de Trabajo; CNT), the anarcho-syndicalist trade union central organization of Spain, founded in Madrid in 1911.

With 1.5 million supporters in 1937, the National Confederation of Labor was dominant mainly among the workers of Catalonia and the farm laborers of southern Spain. At its second congress, held in December 1919, the CNT decided to join the Comintern, but this decision was reversed under the pressure of anarchist leaders in 1922. When Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship was established in September 1923, the CNT trade unions were disbanded but were again legalized in March 1930.

In January 1932 and again in December 1933, the anarchist extremists who had gained strength within the CNT leadership organized armed uprisings aimed at setting up a form of anarchy they called “free communism.” Some CNT trade unions refused to follow this extremist course; between 1932 and 1934 these unions broke away from the CNT and formed the Opposition Trade Unions. In March 1934 the Asturian division of the CNT concluded a “revolutionary alliance” with the Asturian branch of the Unión General de Trabajadores (General Union of Workers; UGT) and in October 1934 participated in the Asturian workers’ uprising.

The outbreak of the fascist rebellion forced the leaders of the CNT, despite their proclaimed rejection of political struggle, to join the Popular Front government in November 1936 and to conclude a pact of unity with the UGT on March 15, 1938. In April 1938 the CNT officially joined the Popular Front. After the establishment of the fascist dictatorship in 1939, the CNT was outlawed and functioned in emigration. Since Franco’s death in 1975, the CNT has been stepping up its activity.

L. V. PONOMAREVA [17–1070–3; updated]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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