General strikes and the struggle against austerity in Spain

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Valeriano Orobó...
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Jul 17 2010 17:54
revolut wrote:
According to the Spanish media, the Strike Comittee has accepted the agreement proposed by the company. The strike would be stopped and the salaries of the workers will be reduced a 1%. All the unions have accepted the agreement, except Solidaridad Obrera. Anyway, it must be voted and approved by the General Meeting of the workers (I think next monday).

Apparently that's correct. The non-violation of the collective agreement has been always the pivotal point of the fight in SO eyes so neither a reduction of 1% is acceptable. We'll see.

revolut
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Jul 19 2010 21:26

It seems that the workers have accepted the agreement and the Strike of the Madrid's Underground has been called off. Anyway, around a 26-30% of the workers voted for the proposal of Solidaridad Obrera union for continuing with the strike and the mobilizations.

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fingers malone
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Jul 26 2010 22:34

I'm sorry, this is a dog's breakfast of a translation but it was really difficult and I don't have a dictionary..... sorry.

On Saturday 17th of July the strike committee, the company and the “Consorcio” met and reached a pre-agreement, with the sole opposition of this union section. (ie Solidaridad Obrera) The pre-agreement in question contains breaches of our collective agreement:
It does not respect the “promedio annual” of 200 hours of training as laid out in clause 29 of the convenio: as the teams are understrength, with the reduction of overtime, it is not possible to send employees to training school.
It reduces the number of people in the team by not covering the “bajas vegetativas” which could occur throughout the year. Partial retirement and retirement at 64 will be covered, and all absences of drivers, chief of vestibulo and ticket clerks. All absences in all other categories and cases of voluntary absence, permanent disablility, felleciementos with no posibility of being covered by family as in clausula 34, will not be covered.
With this agreement, theoretically the imposition/negotiation of cuts in personnel costs remains open, as neither side have renounced the possibility of other formulas, although it is possible that, once the strikes have stopped, the company won’t bother to continue negotiating.
In the end our salaries will be reduced by 1% to the delight of the countess.
For this union section it is unacceptable that they have not abandoned the disciplinary proceedings now that the company have taken the conflict as finished demanding the calling off of the strike. Historically once the conflicts have finished the disciplinary proceedings are called off.
The agreement leaves open the judicial path regarding the legality of RDL 8/2010 and L/4/2010.

The workers’ assembly.

The preagreement states that the pact must be ratified by the workers’ assembly and that took place yesterday.
The workers voted 513 in favor of the proposal of the majority of the strike committee to accept the proposal against 238 in favour of our proposal:
No to the preagreement- open judicial proceedings.
Mobilisations starting in September bringing the conflict into the street.

The representatives of the union sections who signed the agreement didn’t have any problem with blatant lying and using tricks such as not allowing the withdrawal of proposals so as to divide the votes against their proposal. They won’t be as clear about the goodness of the agreement.
This union section will continue putting out information from the accounts, will continue denouncing the corrupt policies of the local government and will open judicial proceedings.

Valeriano Orobó...
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Jul 27 2010 11:14
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Valeriano Orobón Fernández wrote:
BTW miles, don't believe bbc, the economist or financial times about spanish economy: how byased they are is beyond any reasonable point and only try to play the game of the City's sharks to shatter spain's treasury bonus. As the german government they only want to reintroduce slavery here with the gracious cooperation of that cunt aznar. Better use another sources to track our bankruptcy.

That's exactly what the Spanish government have said about the Financial Times.

I very much doubt that the spanish government had said that FT and german government want to reintroduce slavery here but anyway, that both sources i named before work in the interest of the pound and the dollar and against the euro is quite clear. The weakest link in euro are the so-called pigs, bad-mouthing their economies through rating agencies makes possible to weaken the euro as sheltering currency and i have no doubt that is what is being made by FT and TE. That's in the long run, in the short one serves the moves of speculative capital that runs the City.

The german government has another interests: as we can no longer buy german commodities at the level we used to cos there is no more easy credit, now they want to make sure that we, the workers, give back what the spanish banks have borrowed, therefore the austerity measures. Considering that the german banks knew perfectly well the speculative nature of our boom and the corrupt nature of our politicians (the PSOE is a product of Willy Brandt, Callahan and Bruno Kreitsky, the socialist internationl financed, indoctrinated and built it in the 70's, it was a non-existing party before), they knew perfectly well the nuisances attached to the boom but it's quite difficult for the german banks and government to say to the germans: "look, we screw it up. We knew we were lending money to countries (the PIGS) whose institutions ar rotten and run by crooks, we knew what was very likely to happen it's just that, as long as it was working, we were making loads of money", they prefer to blame those "southern lazy bastards" to avoid their own responsability in the german's faces. The nationalist card it's being played everywhere, to me is quite obvious along with the usual argument: "everybody is skint but me".

Valeriano Orobó...
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Jul 28 2010 12:58

On the metro de madrid strike:

Finally the strike has failed. While the cuts have been reduced to 1%, that proves that the collective agreement has been violated. The new agreement allows future redundancies, doesn't guarantee vacant posts to be covered and allows disciplinary actions to be taken against the workers.

In the last days the workers were threaten with the militarization of the service, that is, no scabs but soldiers and with the central government support.

In the voting 513 workers voted to stop the strike while 238 were for carrying it on.

CCOO have as usual manouvered to stop the strike and put the strikers that wanted to continue in minority.

http://www.solidaridadobrera.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1946:fin-del-convenio-200912-aviso-8310&catid=15:trabajadores-en-general-de-metro&Itemid=261

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fingers malone
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Jul 30 2010 20:58

I got sent this to translate last week but I didn't see it, sorry... What they don't say is WHY the workers are angry and setting fire to boats.

From europa press:
The shipyards of Huelva have returned to normal after the altercations of last Thursday. The workers set fire to a boat and various tyres and oilcans, which took four fire crews four hours to put out.
The first fire started outside the cabin of the boat and then several outbreaks were reported in “cubetas o palos” but the most dangerous moment was when several oilcans were set on fire, creating a massive column of smoke which could be seen from all over the city.
The workers will continue with mobilizations next week and will have an assembly every Tuesday in which they will initiate some kind of protest. The president of the works council said that “the situation is unsustainable and there is no light on the horizon for the shipyards of Huelva.”

Anyone know any more? There were some mobilisations in the shipyards in Seville just before I left but they only set fire to some tyres on the main road (lightweights!) The shipyards in Andalucia have been being run down steadily for years, so I assume it is job losses.

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Aug 4 2010 10:26

Strike of air traffic controllers will affect more than half a million travelers

One thousand eight hundred workers voted yesterday to strike, the busiest month for the airports and the month with the busiest impact on the tourism industry. The air traffic controllers are negotiating their collective agreement with the government. The strike cannot take place before the 14th of August as they are obliged to give ten days warning to Aena, the airport company. 98% of union members of USCA voted in favour of the strike, representing 95% of the workforce. Today they could decide to lengthen the strike action.

This is from El Publico.

Servicios minimos will be at at least 50%, it is impossible to have a meaningful strike without breaking the law it seems to me if servicios minimos are going to be set so high. So far it looks like the workers will follow them.

The comments on the webpage by readers are horrible, attacks on these workers for being overpaid, greedy and selfish and putting their own interests above the "national" interest, even people explicitly saying they want the "Reagan solution".

revolut
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Aug 4 2010 10:49

It must be said that the 'Socialist' Government has been used the issue of the air controllers with a demagogic and populist discourse -blame these workers as irresponsable and almost as they were guilty of the economic crisis- while at the same time they're initiating the first step to privatizing some airports and control towers, and defending the use of military personnel for substituting the workers.

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thegonzokid
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Aug 22 2010 23:55

Anyone going to be in Spain for the general strike??

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fingers malone
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Aug 23 2010 00:06

Yeah, I will get back just in time for it. If anyone wants to come over we have a spare room in our squat, I can't promise it will be any good in terms of serious class struggle but probably will be pretty lively and exciting for a visit. Actually, yeah fuck it why don't you all come over for the strike? It will be about one million degrees centigrade but hey. PM me first to make sure that eighty new people haven't moved into my flat in the meantime.

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fingers malone
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Aug 26 2010 16:58

Bad news from Madrid.

Serious attack by the management.

The management of the Metro has broken off relations with the unions and is demanding 6,581,330 E in compensation.

I've translated the whole communique but I'm having a computer problem. more soon.

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fingers malone
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Aug 26 2010 17:02

Serious attack by the management.

The management of the Metro has broken off relations with the unions and is demanding 6,581,330 E in compensation from the five unions that called the recent strikes, and from the eleven members of the strike committee. The unions are SCMM, CCOO, UGT, Solidaridad Obrera and SLMS. They are also demanding that the strike of the 29th and 30th be considered illegal and abusive.

From Solidaridad Obrera we consider this demand to be the rupture of labour relations in the Metro, and think it is necessary to respond meaningfully to this new aggression from the management. For this reason we are meeting with the other unions with the aim of giving the most united and meaningful response possible.

We reiterate that THIS IS AN ATTACK WITHOUT PRECEDENT. We lament the tibieza of the other unions that see this attack as normal when it is the first time something like this has ever happened and it is trying to finish off organised unionism in the Metro.

The adjudication for this demand with be on the 30th of August. We believe that we need to prepare a mass general assembly for the beginning of September, as we will need to set in motion a new mobilisation. The agreements which don’t definitively close conflicts, as they should, this is what happens: a week later they reopen.

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Steven.
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Aug 26 2010 18:18

wow, that's crazy. That is the bosses being plain vengeful. This would appear to vindicate SO in saying that they shouldn't have accepted cuts at all - the bosses seem to have taken that as a sign of weakness and gone on the attack

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fingers malone
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Aug 27 2010 00:01

Vengeful it sure is. The article says this has never happened before, will other companies try this? Yet another fear factor when considering going on strike, it's horrible. Don't know if accepting some cuts has led to this attack- maybe in the current crisis the bosses are in general on the offensive. They seem to be pushing for quite far reaching things, to scrap existing convenios, unusual levels of repression. We don't know what would have happened if the strike had ended differently. I think it was interesting what a large minority didn't vote to accept the agreement, 30%.

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fingers malone
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Aug 27 2010 00:23

Translated some of an interesting article in Soledaridad Obrera.

The most important thing to come out of the Metro strike isn’t the result, the agreement signed by the Strike committee, nor the fact that for the first time they have continued with the disciplinary proceedings after the strike ended. The real importance is what we have sown, the way of carrying out the strike, the general assemblies, the pickets, the participation of the youth, the hope of the veterans, the communication with passengers, the unitary strike committee, the example given to the rest of the working class. When its day comes this seed will give fruit.

We have carried on, like last year in the negotiation of the collective agreement, supporting the whole struggle in the general assembly, true pillar and motor of the struggle, with a unitary strike committee subordinate to the decisions of the assembly, and with all this we have carried out, for the first time in many years, a true strike, a total strike, abandoning those “servicios minimos” which are nothing more than antistrike.

When you strike, the state shows its true face. The criminalisation of the Metro workers has been bestial, disproportionate, only comparable to the lynching they are carrying out with the air traffic controllers.

Samotnaf
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Aug 27 2010 15:50

Any idea why the movements of assemblies of the 70s didn't succeed in the end?

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fingers malone
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Aug 27 2010 17:03

Fucking hell, start with the easy questions eh?

It was part of the general class defeat of the seventies but I can do a bit better than that, I will think a bit and then write something.

Salvoechea
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Aug 27 2010 17:39

70s assemblies failed, because they had to fail as they were a remnant of the 'fordist' era. In mid 70s in Spain started the oil crisis and it hit the country industry quite hard, making the governments (the last one of the dictature and the first ones of the democracy) to begin with a total re-structuration of the industry. In 1978, from a situation of a virtual full employment, there were around 800,000 unemployed.

Although a massive contestation movement begun in that years, it was focused in three sectors: the Basque Country, Madrid and Calalonia. In the first case it was the basque left that monopolized it leading to the modern separatist left (yes, plenty of their cadre came from the autonomous basque movement). In the second case, as well as the rest of Spain, the assemblies were put down by the trade unions, specially CCOO, and the PCE; those organisation had pacted a social peace with the government. The third case was an exception, because the assemblies merged into CNT, which began to be a problem to the State (which led to caso Scala* and to its political suicide into splits).

In those years it was PCE the best prepared party, with the best cadre, hegemonic in the universities, majoritary in unions and so on. However the socialists gained terrain very quicly, absorving the UGT part of the USO (social-chistians) and other smaller unions. In the political side, PSOE attracted after the pacts of Moncloa** a great deal of ex-communists. They were never politically conscious out of a mere anti-francoism. When the democracy arrived, they went into the party they considered to be the most probable to get the power. I was told that up to 30,000 cadres moved into psoe, but I cannot have the quote.

So, after three or four years of democracy the people got tired and the popular movements lost its strengh. The King sponsorized a failed coup d'etat in 1981 and became more popular thanks to the media and all the political parties. And finally one year later PSOE came into power, erasing the rest of the assemblies (by saying they needed to substitute the francoist structure; the whole left was mobilised to get new functionaries).

and let's not forget the heroine 'epidemy' that suffered spanish youth. Well, I think it was a part of the 'desencanto' (deception) with the state of things.

thats my summary smile

-----

** After the Portuguese revolution in 1974, the NATO didn't want a similiar situation in Europe. So they put pressure the first government of the new spain to arrived to a pact with the political parties, specially with PCE. And for its part PCE was threatened with the gosh of a new militar putsch. So, the government, the parties and unions signed a pact that guaranteed the social peace for a 6 year period (no general strikes, for example). Obviously the extreme left didn't signed it .

* the CNT was the biggest organisation that opposed Pactos de la Moncloa. It organised a big demo against it in Barcelona, in 1978. It certainly could have attracted all the people who didn't like the new state of things. however there was an infiltrate into the organisation who impel a group of anarchist to throw a few molotovs into a posh discotheque of the time. Inside the building there were 4 workers trapped as the doors were closed with chaines. Also the building was already burning in other side with a phosphore bomb (from the Army deposits)... After this all the anarchist that could say a word about this frame-up were arrested and a huge case was presented in press and TV accussing the anarchists of being terrorists and so on. The organisation lost a great deal of its credit with this case.

Salvoechea
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Aug 27 2010 17:46

One important move in Barcelona of joint forces is this:
http://assembleadebarcelona.wordpress.com/

I see the 29S strike as the beginning of a new situation, as people is quite fed up of everything. The real problem is to cope with the poor image of CCOO and UGT. According to right-wing media they've lost 270,000 members in 2009.

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fingers malone
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Aug 27 2010 18:52

In the Moncloa Pacts the parties and unions who signed them agreed to enforce "social peace' and control the popular working class rebellion in exchange for better welfare, better housing etc. The unions and parties did their job and controlled strikes etc. but the bourgeoisie then reneged on this part of the agreement and most of the improvements in living conditions never materialised. So why did the workers let this happen?

As Salvoechea says the crisis of the 70s hit the Spanish economy really badly, a lot of manufacturing upped sticks and went to Brazil or Korea, Brazil was still under military dictatorship at that time and I think Korea was too. Mass unemployment meant that the employers had the advantage. Don't forget the extent of repression, a wave of repression started in 1969 and continued throughout the 70s. More people were killed by the police in the years just after Franco died than before. Striking workers were shot dead on picket lines almost weekly at one point. The working class were between austerity and repression and people were afraid, most people thought there would be some massive outbreak of violence, a new coup d'etat or similar.

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Steven.
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Aug 28 2010 13:04

thanks for your comments about the 70s, very informative. I have posted a link to them after the wildcat Spain book here:
http://libcom.org/history/wildcat-spain-encounters-democracy-1976-1978

Also, there is a more detailed article about the Scala provocation here:
http://libcom.org/history/scala-file-case-history-state-provocation-1978

Samotnaf
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Aug 29 2010 06:22

Thanks, fingers and Salvoechea for your replies to my "easy" question. And it's good to see that "Wildcat Spain..." text now up in the library here, though I haven't re-read it yet. But (there's always a "but")....

Salvoechea:

Quote:
70s assemblies failed, because they had to fail as they were a remnant of the 'fordist' era.

No - nothing "has to" fail. In hindsight one can make it seem that everything "had to" happen. But the class struggle is not made in hindsight, and we cannot view history from the point of view of God who has determined that there was no choice about what happened. Beyond the false choices of voluntarism (which tends to ignore or minimise the real external factors that have to be struggled against and overcome, as if it's all solely a question of will), and determinism (which tends to minimise will, to say everything was or is inevitable) it's essential, as much in relation to looking at the past as in struggling against the present, to look at the choices, critiques, decisions and possibilities that were avoided.
"The objectivist speaks of the necessity of the given historical process...The objectivist, in proving the necessity of a given series of facts, always runs the risk of getting into the position of an apologist for those facts...The objectivist speaks of "insurmountable historical tendencies"..." (Korsch, "A Non-Dogmatic Marxism")
As you almost certainly know, capitalists repressed the "'fordist' era" because the industrial proletariat of the "West" were threatening their interests, even to the point of possibly threatening capital itself at times (and certainly capitalist social relations). They "had to" do this, but, iirc from the Wildcat Spain book (haven't read it for a long time) 'our side' didn't contest directly the unions and the leftist parties enough - the assemblies ran their own struggles without explicitly combatting the leftist enemies, which is one of the lessons that could be drawn (and which fingers does, kind of).

State-manipulated terrorism, brutal anti-working class violence, heroin, fear of unemployment, the capacity of various capitalists to move off to other countries more favourable for them, as mentioned by both of you, are still things that they will use in any future wave of class struggle. And, btw, you don't need to be a compulsive conspiracy theorist to see that the "military coup" mentioned by Salvoechea was very clearly allowed to happen as a method of uniting all opposition round the democratic bourgeoisie against its francoist past: this particular manipulation obviously can't be tried again, but they'll be checking out all the other worldwide State-backed manipulations that have succeeded in the past and be ready to apply a version of them to control any future explosion of class struggle.

In addition to these things, acceptance of the aestheticisation of everyday life (for example, in the form of the young working class trying to "make it" in the world of music or art), and the cultural conditioning/education that says that art is good, harmless and healthy and positive, became one of the means of intensifying social control and separation, particularly as it was hardly contested, even in the theory of revolutionaries.

I remember already in 1990, before the Olympics, the corridor of the police station in the Ramblas in Barcelona looked like an art gallery - complete with framed kids' drawings, and nice sand-blasted plastered walls - to make the cops seem innocuous. The destruction of the overtly miserable Barrio Chino and its replacement with the hidden, covert, and more hierarchically controlled "pretty" misery of architecture, with the poor dispersed and/or kicked out, many of the buildings cleaned of their past, turning the city into a tourist attraction, loads of art galleries and antique shops...I imagine this kind of thing went on in lots of other Spanish cities (just as it does outside Spain) with a history of class struggle, as well. Nowadays the Ramblas is full of those horrible human statues, turning individuals into "interesting" objects for the cameras, aestheticised reification, which, however apparently "unimportant" are symptomatic and reinforcing, of a dominating ideology of "creativity" which helps encourage separation amongst the, particularly young, working class...

Will the next wave of class war subvert the art galleries, etc? A translation into French of this text is now very popular amongst many of the anti-capitalist anti-Statist milieu in France. I'd guess it would be relevant to Spain as well.

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Aug 30 2010 20:56

Just recieved this from Solidaridad Obrera in Madrid

Adjudication takes place without agreement reached.

The metro management demands compensation of six and a half million euros from the five unions and the eleven members of the strike committee.

An hour of adjudication took place, which the director of the metro didn’t attend, sending instead some very expensive lawyers, who never opened their mouths and didn’t offer any kind of conciliation.

The court hearing was attended by the five unions who have proceedings against them (SCMM, CCOO, UGT, Solidaridad Obrera and SLMS) and ten of the eleven members of the strike committee; (don’t understand) si bien por no portar poder notarial se dieron por no comparecientes formalmente as SCMM a CCOO.

TV cameras and the press were in attendance from the start. Most importantly for us there were a large group of workers who came to support the defendants. We want to say thanks for coming to many members of Soli, mainly from the Metro but also from the cleaning section (Urbaser) from the local council of Alcorcon, from the education section and from General Trades. And we’d also like to thank the comrades from the unions SAS health section, AST from Telefonica and from UPS Vallecas (against whom they have now applied the new labour reform with 18 dismissals.)

We also want to say that the pseudounion ultra “Manos limpios” (clean hands) has pressed criminal charges against various members of the strike committee, a bodge job of an application which doesn’t even get the day right when they charge that we didn’t comply with the servicios minimos (don’t understand) y no digamos ya en los apellidos de los demandados.

For Solidaridad Obrera the quantity of money they are trying to sue for is a very serious attack which is trying to finish off organised unionism in the Metro. Remember that the application is also trying to get the strike declared illegal or abusive for the days of 29 and 30th of June. This application has caused the breaking off of labour relations in the Metro since the 20th of August, since when there have not been any union- management meetings.

It is clear that the conflict wasn’t closed as it should have been when it was in our hands to demand it and this has shown our weakness to the management who now try to exploit it.

For this union section it is necessary to call a united general assembly to explain the situation, about this claim for compensation and about the disciplinary proceedings which are ongoing, and together to see what action we will take to defend ourselves.

SOLIDARIDAD OBRERA

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Sep 8 2010 15:09

Mines occupied and highways blocked in miners' strike in northern Spain.

500 miners are on indefinite strike in Leon and 300 in Asturias due to non-payment of wages. 14 people are occupying a mine in Leon and there have been other occupations. The miners have not been paid for over a month. The private companies are blaming low sales of coal. Workers have blocked the highways between Leon and Gijon and the highway which leads to Galicia, where they have been charged by the riot police. In Teruel, Aragon, the town hall has been occupied.

More news to come.

akai
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Sep 8 2010 17:25

I will pass this news on to our miners. There will be a big miners' strike here this month. Surely they will be inspired by this action.

Speaking of strikes, the General Strike is coming. This is an English version of the latest call:
http://cia.bzzz.net/spain_cnt_calls_for_participation_in_the_general_strike_september_29

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Sep 8 2010 17:43
akai wrote:
I will pass this news on to our miners. There will be a big miners' strike here this month. Surely they will be inspired by this action.

Speaking of strikes, the General Strike is coming. This is an English version of the latest call:
http://cia.bzzz.net/spain_cnt_calls_for_participation_in_the_general_strike_september_29

Ya curious, is their any more info on this? Such as which unions/industries are going to participate? Maybe I missed it earlier in the thread.

Also, good luck to those the miners

incontrolado
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Sep 8 2010 19:23

Battle between miners and riot police in San Román de Bembibre, Leon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeRbpyTsisY&feature=player_embedded

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5Xtm2WAvNA&feature=player_embedded

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zR4VJczX_kc&feature=channel

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fingers malone
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Sep 8 2010 20:11

Hi Sabot, as far as I know all the unions have joined the call for the general strike. How many people will actually be on strike we will see.

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Sep 8 2010 20:50

Salvoechea: earlier on you began your post by writing that "70s assemblies failed, because they had to fail as they were a remnant of the 'fordist' era".

I may have read you wrong, but I don't think you develop this argument in the rest of the post. And do you mean that assemblies are no longer a valid instrument of struggle?

IYou also wrote: "the assemblies were put down by the trade unions, specially CCOO, and the PCE; those organisation had pacted a social peace with the government". I am sure you are right there, and also when you seem to say that the assembly movement lost perspective and exhausted itself. But that also implies that the workers were defeated for two reasons: their own difficulty in knowing how to advance the struggle, and the deliberate obstacle posed by the state forces of order in their ranks - the unions and Stalinist party. The question of 'post Fordism' doesn't seem to enter into it, unless you are simply arguing that the subsequent break-up of industries helped to further fragment the working class.

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Sep 8 2010 20:57

Workers not being paid their wages is a very common problem in Spain, Legally you can't stop work as you have then left your job voluntarily, and you will be in a very bad position regards redundancy pay and so on. This forced workers to keep working, often for months and months, not knowing if the company is going to go bankrupt or in some cases if their employer is going to do a bunk. These companies are effectively forcing their workforce to give them a massive interest free loan to manage their cashflow problems with. Sometimes the owners know they are going to wind up the business and keep the workforce on to the last possible day, owing them months of wages.
Legally there is redress but it takes a long time.

Regarding the miners, I had a look on the net and Spain gets most of its energy from oil and gas, especially imported from Algeria. So the economy isn't very dependent on coal.

I know the police often go into a highway blockade and break heads, but do the workers run a big risk of getting criminal charges against them for these kinds of actions?