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General strikes and the struggle against austerity in Spain

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jesuithitsquad's picture
jesuithitsquad
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Jul 1 2010 23:04

That's tough to watch. Be safe.

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
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Jul 2 2010 09:17

They are Ertzaintza, you only have those police in the Basque country. In Catalonia they also have an autonomous police force (and maybe Navarra?)

I think the worst bit of the video is when they are arresting one picket and the other cop is walking along beside him casually beating him on the legs when he can´t run away.

Valeriano Orobó...
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Jul 2 2010 10:15
fingers malone wrote:
They are Ertzaintza, you only have those police in the Basque country.

Yes, they are the ertzaintza but unfortunately they are not the only police force there: the policía nacional and the guardia civil are present there as well.

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fingers malone
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Jul 2 2010 13:33

Ah, I didn´t mean they were the only police in the Basque country, I meant you don´t have them outside the Basque country!

fort-da game
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Jul 2 2010 14:50

96 posts of news but what of the analysis?

What is the ratio between spectacular gestures of opposition (unions going through the motions) and genuine instances of contestation (in terms of numbers of participants and numbers of events occurring)? To what extent is the former collapsing into the latter? To what extent is the latter being recaptured by the former etc etc?

What is Libcom's line on all this? And when will it publish its statement on 'austerity'?

Caiman del Barrio
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Jul 2 2010 15:06

Por la primera vez, estoy de acuerdo con Fort, quien pide un poco de analisis. Me gustaria escribir algo por el blog de El Libertario en Venezuela sobre eso...

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fingers malone
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Jul 2 2010 16:57

Well, I stuck strictly to news because this isn´t my country and I didn´t want to draw conclusions that could be wrong, for example the first six months I was here I always thought the direct actions, level of mobilisation etc that I saw was brilliant, it took a long time to realise that they can be mostly spectacular, or can be grassroots class struggle (or "genuine instances of contestation" if you prefer) but then be fucked up. Actually that is what I have seen the most: real class struggle, that is subsequently fucked up.

Also I live in Seville, which is the size of Reading and so what I see here may not be representative of the rest of Spain or may not be very relevant. I have thought a lot about what I have seen and participated in since I got here but I thought it was important to be accurate so I stuck to news and things I had participated in myself or could verify by looking up dates, facts etc. I thought it was better to stick to what I was sure about rather than give a misleading analysis that was wrong.

Anyway I am going to plant pumpkins again for the weekend so I can´t write anything till Monday, but I will try to translate any important news about the strike early on Monday.

If you think of specific things you want to know more about, that would help. Anyway don´t you know it´s forty degrees in Seville? You´re lucky I even switch on the fucking computer. It´s like having a toaster on your lap!

Valeriano Orobó...
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Jul 2 2010 18:26

malone, the 40 degrees in Sevilla are of the hugest relevance. I think people up norf don't notice enough

fort-da game wrote:
96 posts of news but what of the analysis?

What is the ratio between spectacular gestures of opposition (unions going through the motions) and genuine instances of contestation (in terms of numbers of participants and numbers of events occurring)? To what extent is the former collapsing into the latter? To what extent is the latter being recaptured by the former etc etc?

What is Libcom's line on all this? And when will it publish its statement on 'austerity'?

You have analysis in the 1st page of this thread (even if they are not formal articles) that probably you haven't bothered to read .

About the basque country:

From what i have gathered the unitary strikes did count with the nationalist unions (ELA-STV and LAB) and CCOO. UGT was out. Even if CCOO joined the strike that was only to save face cos their reputation is seriously damaged everywhere: they weren't seen in the evening demos. If my info is right, CNT and CGT joined the strike as well. The following of the strikes was bigger in villages than in cities and it was mainly followed in the industry sector than in services. No contradiction in the last sentence: in the basque country there are loads of industries in rural areas. The demos were massive from what in know even if i don't have figures.

"Unions going through the motions" it's not accurate here: CNT or Solidaridad Obrera are not state-funded unions or the like that participate in sindical elections.

What a "genuine instance of contestation" is, it's something that it's you who has to define it. For me refusing to fulfill the minimum services is INDEED a genuine act of contestation.

In general terms nothing massive is happening right now. Partially i tried to explain why in the first page. In case i got the time i'll try to expose it in an article. That's IF i got the time. Seeing that more spaniards are joining they can contact me whenever they want something to be translated. It'd be a pleasure.

A los españoles que entren en el hilo: poneos en contacto conmigo si quereis que algo se traduzca. Os ayudaré en lo que pueda.

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Jul 3 2010 19:23
Quote:
What is Libcom's line on all this?

what's yours? you and garco are looking more and more like trolls as each day passes.

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Jul 5 2010 17:23

Hopefully we´ll get the news from the assembly soon to see if the strike continues, here is something from the third of July, from Madrid:

In the general assembly of the 3th of June, the third day of the strike and the second of all-out strike action, the great majority decided to take the foot off the accelerator to give an opportunity for negotiation; but above all to give a break to those workers who rely on the metro.

Two days of ALL OUT strike in the Madrid metro should be enough to show the "responsible" politicians who unleashed this conflict, that the will of the metro workers to defend their collective agreement is firm and strong.

Following the agreements of the assembly, Thursday and Friday we have gone back to providing the abusive servicios minimos which impede the right to strike and make our response unnoticed in the city. On Saturday, Sunday and Monday we will not be on strike. And on Monday we have an important general assembly in Plaza Castilla.

The management of the Metro and their bosses in the local government have had time to present present proposals to have a negotiated solution to the conflict. However it appears that they are not trying, it seems they have misunderstood the decision to call a pause. On Thursday, at the request of the strike commitee, there was the first meeting at which, due to a deliberate confusion on the part of the managers over legitimacy and it was hardly possible to discuss anything. They were also in a hurry to go to lunch and so stopped the meeting after less than one hour without warning. On Friday we met again without moving forward. Since the beginning of the meeting, the management promised to provide documentation referring to the budget for 2010 for labour costs, but this was reduced to a single piece of paper handed in to the union locals at 6pm. In the meeting, the management demanded, as a condition of negotiations, that the strikes from the 5th be called off, and that they were prepared to hold negotiations on Monday night or Tuesday morning. The management are on holiday at the weekend obviously.

If they think the metro workers are defeated they are wrong. Big mistake. We will spell out our conditions clearly and straightforwardly for them to take to the assembly on Monday morning:

1. That the current collective agreement be respected

2. That no disciplinary proceedings are taken against anybody.

It doesn´t look like they will respect either of these conditions. Referring to disciplinary proceedings, our comrades from the postal service are arriving non-stop at the houses of metro workers with carrying burofaxes (tr. telegrams?) (We should look into the amount of money wasted on this, they can deliver them to people at their workplace free.) Hundreds of disciplinary notices have arrived which are being contested by the union locals. The local of Solidaridad Obrera for example is open from 9am to 9pm including the weekends and the number of comrades coming in is impressive. The will to struggle seems even stronger than as seen in the assemblies this week.

We are recieving support from thousands of workers from all over the world, from unions, social and political groups and from individual passengers. In our web pages you can see a small part of these messages.

MORE UNITED THAN EVER, THE WORKERS DECIDE AND WE CARRY OUT WHAT WE DECIDE. EVERYBODY TO THE ASSEMBLY IN PLAZA CASTILLA!

Madrid 3 of July 2010

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fingers malone
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Jul 5 2010 17:40

Well we got the criticism from Fort, what do the rest of you think? If people want more analysis then we need more Spanish posters on the thread. I´m not going to analyse things I don´t have enough grounding in. Two of us can translate so that shouldn´t be a problem. If you want me to go and look for analysis then give me some specifics to work with: what is most interesting for you all out there? Are the news reports easy to follow or should I explain more background who the different unions are etc?

Anyway here is my twopence worth of analysis for today.

Refusing to carry out servicios minimos is definitely a contestive contestable contestation or whatever as the workers are obliged by law to provide servicios minimos and as we have seen 400 people have got disciplinary proceedings open against them so far because of it.

One thing that is noticable to me in general is that so many workplace struggles I have seen or been involved in here use very militant tactics, and big mobilisations, but the objective is to force the management to do something they are obliged to do anyway. There was a huge struggle for months in a town near here (Utrera) because the owner of a factory hadn´t paid the workers for months and they were obliged to keep working, without pay or with small fractions of their wages paid, and the mobilisations were impressive but the point I am making is that people are having to put up a massive fight, with some personal risks involved and a lot of effort, to get nothing more than their wages paid. Similarly the metro workers are striking over a pay cut in contravention of their collective agreement. So bear in mind that these are highly militant struggles, but defensive struggles.

Valeriano Orobó...
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Jul 5 2010 17:52
fingers malone wrote:
One thing that is noticable to me in general is that so many workplace struggles I have seen or been involved in here use very militant tactics, and big mobilisations, but the objective is to force the management to do something they are obliged to do anyway. There was a huge struggle for months in a town near here (Utrera) because the owner of a factory hadn´t paid the workers for months and they were obliged to keep working, without pay or with small fractions of their wages paid, and the mobilisations were impressive but the point I am making is that people are having to put up a massive fight, with some personal risks involved and a lot of effort, to get nothing more than their wages paid. Similarly the metro workers are striking over a pay cut in contravention of their collective agreement. So bear in mind that these are highly militant struggles, but defensive struggles.

You wanted an analysis, FDG?

This one above is absolutely correct. That's the way things have gone and are going here.

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fingers malone
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Jul 6 2010 10:18

The strike is suspended for a week for negotiations. According to the mainstream media they might be negotiating a pay cut but a lower one.

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Rob Ray
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Jul 6 2010 12:54
Quote:
What is Libcom's line on all this?

It's a website, not a political party.

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Jul 6 2010 15:57

Very minor thing to report I suppose but I went to our squat this morning and it has been covered in fascist graffiti- "Los Españoles primero" a Democracia Nacional slogan, and loads of swastikas and so on and they´ve written "Jews" on the door. The main reason this is worrying is that they have tried to burn the place down three times in the past but the worst they managed to do was burn one room.

For clarification I mean "our squat" the social centre not "our squat" my house just in case any of my friends are reading this and think I nearly had my house burned down three times but didn´t tell anyone.

Valeriano Orobó...
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Jul 6 2010 16:06

Fucking 'ell! keep the updates and let me know if i can help

Boris Badenov
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Jul 6 2010 22:43
Rob Ray wrote:
Quote:
What is Libcom's line on all this?

It's a website, not a political party.

He was being clever you see.

Anyway, have the workers voted on whether the strike will go on yet? I read somewhere that they were supposed to meet yesterday to decide. How is the union trying to control the struggle? Any clarifications would be appreciated as the Western press is covering this story only minimally and my knowledge of Spanish is only very basic.

Boris Badenov
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Jul 6 2010 22:48

Nevermind, I just found out that the strike was voted down.

Quote:
Madrid metro workers vote against renewal of strike

(AFP) – 1 day ago

MADRID — Metro employees in Madrid decided Monday not to renew a strike that caused chaos in the Spanish capital last week, in order to negotiate with the management, a spokesman for the strike committee said.

He said the employees are to vote again on July 12 on whether to renew the walkout depending on the outcome of the negotiations.

The 7,500 workers are protesting a wage cut of around 5.0 percent by the right-wing regional government, in line with similar measures on public employees' pay adopted last month by Spain's Socialist government.

A four-day metro strike last week caused massive transport disruption throughout the city.

About two million passengers a day normally take the underground rail system.

Trade unions plan a 24-hour general strike on September 29 against public spending cuts and reform of Spain's labour laws.

Valeriano Orobó...
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Jul 7 2010 02:09
Vlad336 wrote:
Nevermind, I just found out that the strike was voted down.
Quote:
Madrid metro workers vote against renewal of strike

(AFP) – 1 day ago

MADRID — Metro employees in Madrid decided Monday not to renew a strike that caused chaos in the Spanish capital last week, in order to negotiate with the management, a spokesman for the strike committee said.

He said the employees are to vote again on July 12 on whether to renew the walkout depending on the outcome of the negotiations.

The 7,500 workers are protesting a wage cut of around 5.0 percent by the right-wing regional government, in line with similar measures on public employees' pay adopted last month by Spain's Socialist government.

A four-day metro strike last week caused massive transport disruption throughout the city.

About two million passengers a day normally take the underground rail system.

Trade unions plan a 24-hour general strike on September 29 against public spending cuts and reform of Spain's labour laws.

We'll see. Anyway, When the strike didn't spread, what can you expect?

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Jul 7 2010 16:49

Incontrolado says that the strikers seem to be in quite low spirits.

Does anybody know what happened about the train strike in Barcelona?

Boris Badenov
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Jul 7 2010 16:54
Valeriano wrote:
We'll see. Anyway, When the strike didn't spread, what can you expect?

I wasn't expecting more tbh; you're definitely right in that an isolated strike, especially one that is bound to draw much more hostility by virtue of the vital nature of the subway system, is bound to peter out.

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Jul 7 2010 22:25
Vlad336 wrote:
Valeriano wrote:
We'll see. Anyway, When the strike didn't spread, what can you expect?

I wasn't expecting more tbh; you're definitely right in that an isolated strike, especially one that is bound to draw much more hostility by virtue of the vital nature of the subway system, is bound to peter out.

that seems premature - it could go back on if they don't come to an agreement presumably

Boris Badenov
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Jul 7 2010 23:15
Steven. wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
Valeriano wrote:
We'll see. Anyway, When the strike didn't spread, what can you expect?

I wasn't expecting more tbh; you're definitely right in that an isolated strike, especially one that is bound to draw much more hostility by virtue of the vital nature of the subway system, is bound to peter out.

that seems premature - it could go back on if they don't come to an agreement presumably

I certainly hope so; they vote again next week I think. But even if the strike is renewed where it goes from there depends on the level of solidarity their struggle receives. The government know this obviously which is why they're trying to use a bit of divide and conquer, claiming, as the mayor of Madrid put it (IIRC), that to go on strike over a 5% cut when thousands of Spanish workers don't have a job to begin with, is outrageous.

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Jul 8 2010 00:20
fingers malone wrote:
Does anybody know what happened about the train strike in Barcelona?

A side question to this...I remember last fall when I was at one of the main train stations in Barcelona I saw some official posters hanging about with the CGT insignia. What's the story behind this, do they have a contract with them...curious?

grupo_ruptura
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Jul 8 2010 08:02

CGT has quite people in Renfe (Spanish Trains) and Solidaridad Obrera the same for Metro in Madrid.

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Jul 8 2010 09:00

Yes, I was in Seville train station once queuing up to buy a ticket, and suddenly they went on strike (it was really good) and just judging by counting flags there were as many people in the CGT as in the two big unions. The CGT are the biggest of the radical unions as far as I know.

Yesterday 250 shipyard workers in Seville blocked roads near the port for three hours with burning tyres protesting because there isn´t "activity" in the shipyard and they haven´t been paid since April. As far as I can make out they haven´t been exactly laid off, but they aren´t building ships and they aren´t being paid.

One thing- I found out about this and other actions in the shipyard from reading the paper, if it wasn´t reported in the news I wouldn´t know, and I even work really near the port. Which leads me to say that these certain groups of workers, the shipyard workers, also the miners of Boledin and some others, seem to be carrying out angry struggles but in isolation. I don´t get the impression that they are connecting very much with other workers. Maybe these workers are used to a certain strength and militancy, due to being important in the local economy and having a strong sense of unity, and are used to relying on that and winning? Because I think it´s worrying if that´s the case, as they are not going to win in isolation.

The shipyards are historically important in Andalucia with a very militant tradition (not just in Andalucia, Asturias as well) but bit by bit they are being closed down as now the ships are built in Korea.

ernie
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Jul 8 2010 12:43

Here are a couple of leaflets produced by groups of workers in Valencia and Alicante concerning how to develop the struggles.
Iniciativas obreras frente al timo sindical

Boris Badenov
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Jul 8 2010 17:00

Anybody know something about the situation in Portugal btw?

Quote:
Portuguese railway workers were the spearhead of the day of action called by unions against government spending cuts to reduce the country's debt.

The Portuguese national rail company, CP, said urban transport around the second city of Porto had been worst affected by the strike. A spokeswoman said 80 per cent of trains around the capital Lisbon had been able to run.

Unions said that the general strike would also affect the steel industry and electrical and chemical industries. Demonstrations have been called in several Portuguese cities.

Portugal's socialist government ordered one round of spending cuts in February in a bid to cut the national debt. It presented new measures in May which include higher taxes, lower welfare payments and a hiring freeze in the public sector.

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/General+strikes+Greece+Portugal/3250585/story.html#ixzz0t6wPA4vb

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fingers malone
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Jul 8 2010 17:10

Don´t know much but in Spain there is a certain anxiety about being "the next Greece" not in terms of general popular uprising but in terms of going bankrupt, and Portugal is considered to be closer to bankruptcy than Spain.
One of our squatters was in Lisbon doing work experience and he said the wages were way worse than here but that the rents were about the same and that the people were practically slaves. He said he came home because no way was he working for 450E a month.
When I was there there were some protests about pay cuts but I didn´t see much.

Valeriano Orobó...
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Jul 8 2010 17:52

For those who read spanish, these are threads on the strike in a-las-barricadas:

http://www.alasbarricadas.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=46984&start=60

http://www.alasbarricadas.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=47109&start=30

And the call for a strike 30, 31 of july and 1st august in RENFE, the spanish railway company:

http://www.alasbarricadas.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=45749&start=60

In the 2nd link there is a message of solidarity from the workers of the buenos aires underground system. They warn the strikers that probably the government will try to regiment the underground sector considering it a vital service and hence suppressing the rigfht to strike. Here more and more you can hear voices against the figure of "collective agreement".

IMO that's one of the main reasons the state-funded unions are preparing the strike at the end of september: to abolish "collective agreement", appart of being another step to the reintroduction of slavery, will make the unions superfluous and redundant.

Beware brit comrades they are going for all.