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[Spain] Lebrija, a whole town organizes and fights unemployment

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Manu Garcia
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Joined: 4-10-04
Feb 11 2009 17:54
[Spain] Lebrija, a whole town organizes and fights unemployment

http://www.alasbarricadas.org travelled last friday to Lebrija, a sevillian locality of about 26000 inhabitants, to support the demonstration that took place that same day in the streets and to interview comrade Victoriano Vela, a 35 year old bricklayer and one of the instigators, as militant of the local Union of the CNT, of the mobilizations that since last week follow one another, demanding the creation of a Bourse du Travail (fr: labour exchange or council) under popular control so as to provide jobs to the unemployed.

We henceforth transcribe the content of the interview we held with him.

1- How did this mobilization arise, and which are its demands?

Well, the thing began in October, when a group of comrades came to the Union talking about the problem of the division of labour in jobs for the City Council, and the shameless patronage that it hides, since only those who are loyal to the PSOE (the party that governs the locality) are employed.

It is known that of 500 workers that took the examinations convened by the City Council, only 20 passed. It is absurd to have bricklayers who have failed a test for non-qualified workers, being skillfull at their job. That should be the only requirement, and nothing else. Because the matter is that there was a written part which was almost impossible to pass for most of the people who took the exam; I may be the best with my scoop, but I might not be able to write a novel. What does the Council demand from a bricklayer, that he does his work properly or that he writes Don Quixote? This system is nonsense, it is designed to make everybody fail and then choose only those who are loyal to the municipal government. People know that, and that is the reason for the outrage.

The Union decided to create a committee with the task of studying the situation and looking for a way to create a fair Bourse du Travail that would avoid favour networks. A debate arose on the subject, and the final agreement was that it would be best to create two Bourses du Travail, one for Agrarian Regime and the other General, being the latter divided as well by crafts (paintors, welders, bricklayers...), under supervision and control of the City Council and the Union. The contracts would last 3 months instead of the current 6, so that labour would be better divided. The Bourse would take into account the economic situation of each family when assigning jobs, in order to guarantee a proper criterion. The idea is that all the jobs entrusted by the City Council should be sanctioned by the Bourse, and that labour should be fairly divided.

On the 31st of January we convened an assembly to discuss the subject in the Casa de la Cultura (sp: culture house). There were 250 assistants, so there was no room for everybody and people decided to begin in that very moment a demonstration, heading towards the seat of the City Council.

The same happened the next day, but in this occasion we were 300 instead of 250, and more people kept coming. In the demonstration that preceded today's (friday, 6th of February), there were already 500. Today, as you have seen, we were 2500. The mayoress cannot keep acting as if nothing happened, and refusing to listen to the voice of the people.

2- Do you intend to take other measures, apart from the demonstrations and gatherings in front of the Council?

Yes, in fact, if by the 18th of February the mayoress has not carried out the requirements of the people we will organize a General Strike that will paralyze Lebrija and will show her, just in case that she has not realized yet, what we, the people, want.

3- How can we support your struggle from other places?

One of the biggest problems that we have concerns money. Just with dues and exceptional contributions, we are hardly able to pay the rent of our Union's seat and all the infrastructure that we need to keep this struggle alive: megaphones, chairs, tables, posters, stickers, pamphlets... So it would be a great help for us to receive any economic contribution sent to the following account, which is the Union's: 2100-2615-11-0110294467

And of course, all the messages that we receive supporting us, that means an important encouragement for us.

4- We are facing the beginning of a serious economic crisis, that will strike worker families very hardly; in fact, this is already happening. What do you think that we can do to fight the effects of the crisis at our homes?

There are no universal prescriptions, and probably what we are doing here in Lebrija would not do in a city as Madrid, where the problem is not caciquism, although we might actually be a good example for other andalusian villages that find themselves in the same situation that we have.

What is clear is that we, workers, must be organized, that we need to converge in strong, independent and fighting Unions, where decisions are taken by everybody. We have to take the initiative, loose our fear and act. If we workers unite to solve our problems, nothing nor nobody will be capable of stopping us, and we will be able to achieve whatever we aim at.