The CNT in the IT Sector

The CNT in the IT Sector

An appeal by the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist union, CNT-AIT, to those in the IT sector.

Given the importance of this sector, we believe that the first thing we should do is define what we mean by workers in IT service companies and telecommunications, which is our industry, and to define that problems there are. We consider workers of these companies to be those who, irrespective of their profession, develop its core business and daily activity in a company that produces:

  • Hardware or software
  • Maintenance, repair and equipment services
  • Network administration and management
  • Programming and web design
  • Business ICT (Information and communication technology)
  • Telephones, voice and data communications equipment, radio, video conferencing, etc..
  • You will see that we emphasize what the company produces and not the job of the worker. This is because in the CNT we organize by branches of production and not jobs. Which means that, for example, workers employed by a software company (say a consultant) and transferred to a bank, must be organized with the comrades from the bank. Also, an employee engaged in accounting work in a company whose function is the development of software, will be organized in the IT branch. We think it is especially important to clarify this point because we do not have our own collective agreement and also because many of the companies in this sector are in fact temporary work agencies in disguise.

    Current Status of the Sector

    The computer industry is a recent creation and is a sector that has always been very profitable for the bosses. During the dot.com era, IT workers were needed everywhere and very high salaries were offered to anyone with the minimum knowledge. Management spent money as if it never was going to end, thinking that it would earn huge profits and they would sell their businesses for millions.

    Later, the bubble burst and there were a few years of extreme hardship, but it still remained in the collective mind that an IT employee did little work but earned a lot of money. That is why many people decided to go into this sector.

    Today the industry is highly polarized as far as salaries are concerned, having one end with fairly high salaries compared to the rest of the working class and the others with wages just at or even under those of the collective agreement applied, since they don't have their own agreement.

    The vast majority of companies in the sector today are temporary work agencies in disguise and their profits come mostly from the illegal assignment of workers. The most common contracts are for specific work and services and the easiest way to improve working conditions or salaries is to change company. Because of this, unions have little presence and workers have little interest in unions. After all, why fight to improve conditions in a company which you will leave in 6 months? The lack of a union presence allows the employer act with impunity and causes workers to be totally unaware of their rights. Which encourages things like mandatory but unpaid overtime, endless workdays, the lack of a proper collective agreement, general helplessness, etc.

    Given this situation of helplessness, the only possibility workers often conceive and which is widely spoken of is the professional associations. Such organizations seek to regulate the practice of requiring a degree in computer science in order to get a job and to persecute the "outsiders", making it impossible for them to work in the sector.

    We are clearly against the IT associations because we believe that although it may benefit a few, the majority of workers will be even further apart from their comrades. It is not enough to have each person on a different contract with different terms, but they now want us to also fight over what we studied, and whether or not we agree to pay the school cashier.

    Schools and regulation of the profession will also bring us such gems as legal responsibility for the projects that we sign. Think stone cold: would you really sign the majority of projects you have done? Maybe you would gain a euro more, but is it really worth the legal risk that would entail?

    On working conditions, it is enough to see the shifts of more than 24 hours long that doctors have to realize that an association does not improve anything. The improvement of our conditions involves the recognition of our colleagues with whom we work as equals and the common joint struggle of us all. As long we continue to see those next to us as responsible for our low wages or our overtime, instead of assuming that your colleague is as screwed as you and that it is the owner of your company who is benefitting, no improvement is possible.

    The IT section of the CNT Madrid believes that to live in dignity, without endless work days, and to provide quality software, a good start would be to:

    1. Recognize your colleagues as equals, regardless of their education or current salary.
    We all work side by side and we must fight together for our common interests. Without intermediaries and without letting anybody represent us. Who better than you know what is good for you?

    2. Stop the illegal assignment of workers. This is the main reason that most employment is not stable and therefore nobody wants to fight for it. A job that lasts 6 months is not a job worth fighting for. The beginning of the fight starts with stable employment for all and an end to temporary work and subcontracting.

    3. An end to mandatory overtime.
    If there is extra work, it is necessary to hire more people, not work more. If we fail to make ends meet, we do not have to work overtime, we have to ask for a living wage that allows us to live and enjoy life. What sense does it make a lot of money when you don't have time to enjoy it?. Furthermore, it is clearly not in solidarity and stupid not to let 5 million people work and you decide to work for 2 people with the salary of 1.

    4. An end to the 0% pay “increases”. Today thet put a lot of salary concepts in absorbable bonuses. This means that at the end of the year, the cost of living goes up but our wages don't. We apply the Consumer Price Index in the base salary that is "absorbed" in some others, plus some other improvements, which may be voluntary or allowances. We believe it is necessary that the bonuses are not absorbed and that our wages by raised by at least the CPI. They already rob us enough throughout the year to let them steal more.

    5. A collective agreement for the sector. Currently most of the sector falls under three main agreements: Offices workers, Metal and the Agreement for Consulting Firms. Each one is bad. A proper collective agreement is necessary to define our business according to current realities. We do not want the agreement to be another point of division between us, but a point that unites us.

    6. Optional on-call duty. Due to the importance of keeping everything running and the problems caused by the loss of service, many colleagues have to be on call to ensure the proper functioning of the infrastructure that we maintain. That is why the CNT believes that on-call duty, as well as overtime, should be optional and that the worker should have last word in the matter.

    7. Leave with full compensation. Because of the shady dealings of the companies and and that there is often a difference between the base salary and the salary with all its benefits, we consider the right to take sick leave indispensible. The only way to guarantee this is to ensure that it will cover 100% pay, including all benefits. Otherwise the economic damage will be too great to allow you to recover properly and you'll be more concerned about returning to work to pay your bills than your recovery.

    8. Complete and frontal refusal of the professional associations. As explained earlier, an organization that seeks the division of workers rather than their union is against our class interests, and therefore we can only reject them with all our strength. Do not be fooled by so-called improvements. Every time they talk to us about association and their virtues, remember the 24 or 36-hour on-call duties that doctors currently do.

    Now that we have exposed the problems of the sector, as well as a set of solutions, we only need to say how we believe we can achieve them. The CNT believes that mediation is not possible and direct action is the best weapon that we have. This means you should look to the comrades at your side and recognize that they have the same problems as you. Realizing that you have these problems in common and you have to fight together.

    In the background you hear somebody saying ... But my colleagues are afraid and do nothing but complain and when the moment of truth comes, they don't want to get their asses burned! Yes comrade, there are many people like that but if you're worried about your interests, you have two options: the first is to join this group of whiners, which will achieve nothing and the second is to get involved with the people who are willing to do something and work together for our common goals. We are the second group. If you are tired of being laughed at, come fight with us. Stop mourning and act.

    Without professional unionists released from work duties. Without subsidies. Assemblyism and direct action.

    Taken from cnt.es (Article published 5/30/2011)

    Comments

    martinh
    Jun 4 2011 09:21

    Hey Juan,
    Thanks for translating this. some of it is directly relevant to the UK as well, so I will be drawing SF members attention to it.
    Regards,
    Martin

    Steven.
    Jun 4 2011 10:57

    I really like the logo

    Juan Conatz
    Jun 4 2011 11:19

    I just took this off the English section on the CNT site btw

    akai
    Jun 4 2011 11:20

    Source and translation, http://internationalworkersassociation.blogspot.com/2011/05/cnt-in-it-sector.html, and of course published on CNT page as mentioned above.

    klas batalo
    Jun 5 2011 15:17

    yeah, my friend who does most of these translations is with the madrid local, and i know that they are heavily involved with IT and graphic designers?

    pretty neat article.

    akai
    Jun 5 2011 20:34

    No, I gave the source of most of the translations.