General strikes and the struggle against austerity in Spain

473 posts / 0 new
Last post
fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Oct 4 2010 22:18

Fantastic reports, gracias compas. Something I´d like to know- what´s happening with the people who got arrested? I´ve heard there were more than a hundred arrests in total. In my city- the guy arrested in the university is up for atentao al autoridad, the two pickets arrested for blocking the motorway I don´t know. If there is anything we can do, some concerts to pay fines for example, please let me know.

Martin O Neill
Offline
Joined: 14-03-08
Oct 5 2010 02:05

Regarding the significance of the strike, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (Affiliates in UK, GMB, TGWU etc, affiliates in Spain, UGT, CC.OO etc) are claiming

"A general strike by 70% of all workers occurred across Spain"

Samotnaf
Offline
Joined: 9-06-09
Oct 5 2010 03:33
Quote:
Fantastic reports

I'd echo that, Salvoechea.

It's interesting that as things start to move that the separations between the different groups (eg in your description of the divisions between the different squatters and the reversal of these divisions) begins to break down. That started happening a lot in Greece in 2008, and I think it's a very important factor in the development of a revolutionary movement (in Greece, this fluidity began to congeal as the more general movement itself began to retreat).

Daniel Denevert, a French situ, said in 1977 something which, although can be used ideologically to encourage a mad kind of individualism, can also be used practically to connect to people against both 'radical' collectivism and 'radical' individualism: "Everything is said about the spectacle except what it always and fundamentally is: the colonisation of the point of view of the individual by the point of view of the collectivity". I don't want to derail this thread by going into an abstract critique of organisations, but I was wondering if you, or people you know in Spain, have started to open out more to other individuals in groups other than your own and started to develop projects not specifically related to your organisations? Obviously I'm not asking for details about such projects, but simply - is this happening?

Samotnaf
Offline
Joined: 9-06-09
Oct 5 2010 03:41

Forgot to mention this:

Quote:

Regarding the significance of the strike, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (Affiliates in UK, GMB, TGWU etc, affiliates in Spain, UGT, CC.OO etc) are claiming

"A general strike by 70% of all workers occurred across Spain"

This stupid exaggeration is typical of the unions, wanting to boost the image of their power. It's the kind of thing that will very easily lead to demoralisation by those who follow them, and believe in this image. Expect a lot of exaggerated claims in the future - in Spain, in France (an unlimited general strike has just last night been announced by most of the unions starting next Tuesday, 12th October: see http://libcom.org/news/developing-struggles-france-28092010).

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Oct 5 2010 10:01
Valeriano Orobón Fernández wrote:
If you consider the numbers of the 2002 general strike the wednesday one was a moderate, mild success or even a quasy-falliure. If you consider the current levels of demobilization, unemployment, right-wing propaganda, disorientation and fear it's been an undeniable success.

I agree, everyone I asked here said the same thing: compared to the last one it´s "flojito" (weak) but it´s a lot better than I expected.

Valeriano Orobón Fernández wrote:
The transport sector was as paralized as the industrial one. This is imo very important because a) transport has been gaining more and more weight in spain's labour market in the last years, there are already many people employed there and b) most of these workers are what we called "fake self-employed", that is that the company doesn't pay them social security but however they use em as if they were wage-earners. This is a group usually very divided, with no collective agreement and unprotected and the strike was massive among them.

This is very interesting, you´re talking about lorry drivers I guess? That ´fake self employed´ sector is an important one and a tricky one. Lorry drivers had a big part in breaking some big strikes when I was a kid, ´News International´ a newspaper printworkers´ strike was one.
In my city the picket of Mercasevilla, that big wholesale market you mention, was one of the really big and successful ones, and started at midnight so it was a good start to the day!

Do you know why the public sector turnout was very low? I was pretty surprised about that.

Martin O Neill
Offline
Joined: 14-03-08
Oct 5 2010 23:54

What do people think should be the next step in the struggles against austerity in Britain, France and Spain?

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Oct 6 2010 08:22

Good question there Martin, but I´m going to make some tea first....

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Oct 6 2010 09:34

The kettle is in the flat upstairs cry

Ok first of all in Spain there are a huge number of people on precarious contracts, the average for most new contacts is eighty days. My neighbour who is a hotel cleaner has been working in the same hotel chain for years on precarious contracts, and her and the other precarious cleaners went to work and crossed a picket line, and she said it was because she doesn´t have the permanent contract. She also said the general strike is only to protect the rights of permanent workers (which isn´t really true, but she wants to justify herself). So we need methods of organising which are meaningful to precarious workers. Some of the radical unions have done some work on this, there have been some strikes in call centres and so on.

I also think we need to break out of our small circles and work together more.

The groups of militant workers who you see in the videos, the astilleros, the miners etc, they carry out their militant struggles, block highways and so on, but it´s very isolated. And a lot of people (wrongly) see them as well paid and only looking out for themselves. So we need to connect struggles. On this note I think what happened in Barcelona was excellent.

People here blame themselves less than in the UK for being poor, they don´t have that ´anyone can make it if they try´ bullshit so much, but the trouble is they are very resigned. It´s shit, we get treated like shit, it´s always the poor that pay, that´s the way it is and it´ll always be that way, there´s nothing we can do.

I´m going to come back to this when I´ve thought of something a bit more meaningful to say.

By the way, we just had a huge-flying-insect-in-flat episode and I chased it out with a broom and it was a LOCUST. wtf? Are there locusts in Spain? Do locusts fly around on their own? I thought they lived in swarms. Is this the beginning of some kind of apocalypse?

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Online
Joined: 2-07-08
Oct 6 2010 10:42

Miguel Romero Baeza: Spanish State: The return of the Social question

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Oct 6 2010 10:53

By the way, can the posters from Madrid tell us about how the day went there?

Samotnaf
Offline
Joined: 9-06-09
Oct 6 2010 16:35
Quote:
What do people think should be the next step in the struggles against austerity in Britain, France and Spain?

Firstly ( and you might not have meant to imply this at all but...) it shouldn't just be a question of a struggle against austerity, even if that could well be a catalyst for a more general struggle. On the simple level of argument, from the point of view of capitalist economics austerity makes reasonable sense; from the point of view that says capital is prepared to destroy everything except itself, except the reign of the economy, the attacks are just one aspect of the misery we must oppose. And unless you're a Leninist politician that believes you have to hide the whole of the truth as you see it in order to win people over, then the struggle against austerity has to be placed within the general anti-capitalist perspective. Austerity, so far, is not the reason why, for example, schoolkids are struggling against the things that concern them.

I think the fact that the Barcelona squatters overcame their differences is an example of something of what "the next step" should be. In fact, I'd be interested, and hopefully others would be as well, to know some important aspects of what the process was in overcoming these separations, Salvoechea. I doubt it could have happened without some discussion about what was superficial and what was significant about their differences, or did it?

Quote:
With the intensification of the workers' struggle, the might of the enemy also increases and besets the workers with renewed doubts and fears as to which road is best. And every doubt brings on splits, contradictions, and fractional battles within the labor movement. It is futile to bewail these conflicts and splits as harmful in dividing and weakening the working class. The working class is not weak because it is split up—it is split up because it is weak. Because the enemy is powerful and the old methods of warfare prove unavailing, the working class must seek new methods. Its task will not become clear as the result of enlightenment from above; it must discover its tasks through hard work, through thought and conflict of opinions. It must find its own way; therefore, the internal struggle. It must relinquish old ideas and illusions and adopt new ones, and because this is difficult, therefore the magnitude and severity of the splits.

-Pannekoek 1936

1936 is a very significant year - if "the next step" is not the goosestep, or its 2010 equivalent - "the silence of the slippers", then the"next step" has to be experiment based on correcting past mistakes and making new ones - all the old certainties, comforting familiarities and dogmas (e.g., the fetishism of political organisation) have to be subjected to thorough critique if we sincerely want to contribute to a revolution.

fingers talks of connecting to precarious workers on crap contracts - sure, but do it; during the miners strike, people talked endlessly about making such connections, but in practice the connections were few and far between.

Got to rush now - i'm going out. I know I've been rather over-general here (not that being specific is the best thing to be on the internet) and perhaps not very clear, but I'm in a hurry so for the moment I'll have to leave it at that.

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Oct 7 2010 19:04

I´ve read that two people are being held on remand after the strike- anyone know any more about them?

Valeriano Orobó...
Offline
Joined: 12-05-10
Oct 9 2010 12:35
fingers malone wrote:
Valeriano Orobón Fernández wrote:
If you consider the numbers of the 2002 general strike the wednesday one was a moderate, mild success or even a quasy-falliure. If you consider the current levels of demobilization, unemployment, right-wing propaganda, disorientation and fear it's been an undeniable success.

I agree, everyone I asked here said the same thing: compared to the last one it´s "flojito" (weak) but it´s a lot better than I expected.

Valeriano Orobón Fernández wrote:
The transport sector was as paralized as the industrial one. This is imo very important because a) transport has been gaining more and more weight in spain's labour market in the last years, there are already many people employed there and b) most of these workers are what we called "fake self-employed", that is that the company doesn't pay them social security but however they use em as if they were wage-earners. This is a group usually very divided, with no collective agreement and unprotected and the strike was massive among them.

This is very interesting, you´re talking about lorry drivers I guess? That ´fake self employed´ sector is an important one and a tricky one. Lorry drivers had a big part in breaking some big strikes when I was a kid, ´News International´ a newspaper printworkers´ strike was one.
In my city the picket of Mercasevilla, that big wholesale market you mention, was one of the really big and successful ones, and started at midnight so it was a good start to the day!

Do you know why the public sector turnout was very low? I was pretty surprised about that.

Sorry for the delay.

Two factors are crucial imo.

In spain public sector white collar workers are feeling less and less concerned about the private sector workers' problems. Many see themselves not only as part of the state but even as part of the government too and use to support government's point of view.

The one's that are not like that are a minnority right now. The public sector parts that used to be much more combative have been already privaticized: shipbuilding, railroad, the mail in the near future, steel industries, etc.

Besides june's public sector strike was ridiculously bad planned by the unions and the people that struck back then was less than willing to do it now.

Funnily enough recently news broke that said that the constitutional court have warned the govt. that probably the public sector reform that included the breaking of the approved collective agreement is more than likely inconstitutional.

http://www.lne.es/asturias/2010/10/09/funcionarios-confian-constitucional-anule-recorte-sueldos/978235.html

Valeriano Orobó...
Offline
Joined: 12-05-10
Oct 9 2010 12:47
Samotnaf wrote:

fingers talks of connecting to precarious workers on crap contracts - sure, but do it; during the miners strike, people talked endlessly about making such connections, but in practice the connections were few and far between.

That's easy to say and incredibly complicated to do in practice at least from my experience as precarious. Partners were always reluctant cos they saw that job as temporary and didn't want to run into trouble not having anything better. In case you could shape some kind of solidarity and union in the workplace, your partners always finished their contracts before being able to do anything. In the worst of the cases quite often you ended up fighting the management alone and being the only dick that was fired.

That was end of the 90's and beginning of the 20's, don't know if the sensation is the same today but i don't see that changing for the most part unless the the idea that this-is-not-temporary-and-all-your-life-is-gonna-be-like-that spreads.

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Oct 15 2010 11:14

Translated from La Haine

-Today the Mossos d´Esquadra (autonomous Catalan police) arrested Josep Garganté, president of Comité de Descanso de Transportes Metropolitanos de Barcelona (TMB) for acts committed during the general strike.
The charges are riot and public order. The CGT member also had charges laid against him by TV3 for allegedly breaking a video camera. -

Anyone know more in general about arrests, repression, etc after the strike? I think it´s important as I feel that the level of repression was going up before the general strike as well, and everyone said there were a lot more police out on the street for this strike than there have been for the others, I´m wondering if this is a ´pre-emptive´ repression before things get much worse for people and they are trying to scare people off struggle in advance.

furbina's picture
furbina
Offline
Joined: 21-03-09
Oct 15 2010 14:13

The arrested that was kept in preventive prison due to "risk of scape because of mexican nationality" was released last thursday 7th oct.

The trials for the accused will probably begin in a year or more, the judicial system in spain is with an overload of work apparently, due to lack of personel, so things go slow...

after the strike, media has gone to the jugular of the "antisistemas" (the profile for the media is a young student or squatter with anarchist or some sort of radical ideas that acted on the demos and riots), during 4 days or so constantly in tv and newspapers, in the catalan TV at least, they concentrated a lot about the "violence in the streets", "Barcelona's image", "is our law being too soft on this people" and so on. In the weekend most read newspaper el periodico, was dedicated to the mistery of who are the antisistemas, with a picture of someone holding a fence for a barricade in the front page.
Pretty lame, from my perspective but obviously the perfect pretext to avoid the main issue after the day of the strike.
Apparently Confederation of market?¿ (comercio) of catalonia wants to make a formal denounce to all the arrested and accuse them of being organised, because they want somebody to pay for the damages made in the shops in the day of the strike.
http://www.adn.es/local/barcelona/20101007/NWS-0123-Querella-antisistema-comercios.html
And the city council wants to add up aswell apparently...

So media repression I would say has been quite brutal against the strikers on the past days.
I'd say is mediatically quite pased now.

here there are some well edited videos that try to resume the whole journey of the 29-s

http://okupemlesones.blip.tv/file/4214717/

the latest is this one

http://okupemlesones.blip.tv/file/4245420/

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Oct 15 2010 18:06

Thanks a lot that´s really helpful.

Comercio is something like retailers in English I think.

furbina's picture
furbina
Offline
Joined: 21-03-09
Oct 15 2010 20:47
fingers malone wrote:
Translated from La Haine

-Today the Mossos d´Esquadra (autonomous Catalan police) arrested Josep Garganté, president of Comité de Descanso de Transportes Metropolitanos de Barcelona (TMB) for acts committed during the general strike.
The charges are riot and public order. The CGT member also had charges laid against him by TV3 for allegedly breaking a video camera. -

The Comission of Descanso (rest/break) is the one of the famous struggle to achieve 2 days of holiday a week for the bus drivers of Barcelona (which they achieved in the end), and he has been quite known since this struggle.
He has been arrested just stepping out of his work journey apparently.

http://comitedescansos.blogspot.com/2008/01/tmb-la-lluita-pels-2-dies-video-de.html

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Oct 20 2010 16:03

There´s going to be a talk at the Anarchist Bookfair in London about austerity and resistance in Spain and Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Greece at 11am on Saturday. We´re also going to show a film about the squatting grannies of San Bernardo in Seville which I have been talking about on the thread about rent strikes in Warsaw. It´s a great video about a pretty interesting struggle which is going through the courts at the moment.

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Oct 24 2010 01:29

On Thursday the police carried out co-ordinated arrests in seven cities for incidents in the general strike. Arrests were made and arrest warrants issued in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Bilbao, Seville, Malaga and Cordoba.
I don't know numbers or details but in my city they have issued 18 arrest warrants for ONE picket line, with the charge of "Atentado al autoridad" agression against authority.

Valeriano Orobó...
Offline
Joined: 12-05-10
Oct 29 2010 18:11

Hi, Malone

When they carry these arrests out the aim is to intimidate people. After being charged they'll be probably already out waiting for the date of the trial. And now everything'll depend of the judge's will to accept what is usually presented as "evidences" if there are any.

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Nov 11 2010 13:30

Madrid metro update: looks like the charges against the drivers for not carrying out minimum services have been dropped, which is good news, there´s an article on the Soli page saying it´s not quite that simple but I can´t understand it.

I´m trying to gather information about all the arrests post general strike but I´m having a lot of trouble getting the info. So if you can help me please pm me.

Valeriano Orobó...
Offline
Joined: 12-05-10
Nov 11 2010 17:56
fingers malone wrote:
Madrid metro update: looks like the charges against the drivers for not carrying out minimum services have been dropped, which is good news, there´s an article on the Soli page saying it´s not quite that simple but I can´t understand it.

I´m trying to gather information about all the arrests post general strike but I´m having a lot of trouble getting the info. So if you can help me please pm me.

Same happens to me quite difficult to gather info about the arrests. Fantastic news that the charges have apparently been dropped! even if as usual ccoo is carrying the negotiations in the shade.

fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
Offline
Joined: 4-05-08
Nov 24 2010 12:25

General strike in Portugal today

Info from El Pais.
The strike is called by the two biggest unions in Portugal, the first time they have called a strike together in 22 years. Looks like the strike is going pretty well, very strong in transport and the public sector. The airports are pretty much at a strandstill. The strike is against the socialist govt´s austerity measures which include a 5% cut in public sector wages, cuts to social services and a rise in VAT.

More news when I get it. Alguien en Portugal leyendo aqui, puedes mandarme textos y los traducco, pero mi portugues es bastanta peor que mi castellano, pero hago que puedo. Y buena suerte hoy!

Valeriano Orobó...
Offline
Joined: 12-05-10
Nov 24 2010 20:03

Lo mismo digo; también yo podría traducir del portugués.

Valeriano Orobó...
Offline
Joined: 12-05-10
Jan 18 2011 17:54

On 27th january there is a call for a general strike in Euskadi, Galicia and Catalunya. CNT call for the strike in Euskadi, Navarra and Catalunya. In Galicia the call is supported by CIG and CUT. In Euskadi the strike is supported too by ELA, LAB, STEE-EILAS, EHNE and HIRU (all these unions orbit around abertzale left)...In the rest of the country, nothing (shame)

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Jan 18 2011 18:31

Thanks for letting us know. Any idea how many workers might participate?

Valeriano Orobó...
Offline
Joined: 12-05-10
Jan 18 2011 19:11

Nope, no idea and it would be a good barometer for the federations in other parts of the country to know about the feelings of the population. I've just known that in my city there is a call for a demo that very day (lame). I will go of course but this way of diffusing the efforts is fatal imo. I didn't tell you when it happened but in october i went for a joint meeting of different minoritary unions that came to my city; they were soc (country workers union, andalucía), so (solidaridad obrera), lab (abertzale left union), csi (left trades coordinating comittee, asturias) and a local coordinating comittee. CGT were invited but refused (maybe expecting to take advantage alone of future confrontations, dunno) Anyway, they assured us that they were working to put up joint actions in november and now i see that only in these regions that will take place. I don't like it. Even if those are the more industrialised regions i'm afraid it's gonna be a weak opposition to the sold-out unions.

Besides i think more propaganda or counter-information or whatever you like to call it is much needed here. I've just known it yesterday and through a forum, i haven't seen any poster in the streets. The same goes for the cnt: imo they should be launching a national campaign for a real serious strike and with the money they recently received in the trial on union patrimony expropiated after the civil war, they have the means; it's a lot what we are risking here. It's not unly that they want us to work until we are 67 if we want a meagre retirement, it's that they want us to pay contributions for 41 fucking years if we want to get it! It's gonna be imposible to achieve it having the shit part-time contracts everybody is getting nowadays.

redsdisease
Offline
Joined: 31-12-10
Jan 18 2011 21:19

Thanks for the update.

On this thread, it was claimed that the CGT was involved with the 27th callout. It's disappointing to hear that they aren't. It's even more disappointing and sort of bizarre that the CNT isn't involved, considering the venom they were spitting at the UGT and CCOO for their lack of enthusiasm over the one called for last september. Any idea why they aren't participating? Could it be that they don't feel like it makes sense for them to participate in a general strike if they're the only ones in the region?

Mark.
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Jan 18 2011 21:50

According to this article in rojo y negro the CGT have joined the 27 January callout in the Basque country, Galicia and Catalunya. In other areas they are organising demos, some on different days. The CNT have joined the callout in Galicia. Solidaridad Obrera and CNT Catalunya (desfederados) have joined the callout in Catalunya. The decisions to support callouts are being made by local and regional unions rather than nationally. As these regions have various left nationalist unions with significant membership there's maybe a view that a general strike without backing from the CCOO and UGT will have more of a real effect there.