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Solidarity with Spanish workers

ETUC Day of Action

14 November 2012

Coinciding with the day of action set by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) on 14 November, the main Spanish trade union confederations (CCOO and UGT) and more than 150 organisations involved in the 'Social Summit' have called a general strike of 24 hours on the same day in Spain.

This article explains their decision to strike. The TUC has written to the Spanish Prime Minister at the request of the Spanish confederations.

The general strike in Spain is aimed against the huge cuts in social provisions and fundamental rights that the Spanish government is carrying out, 'dictated' from the institutions of the European Union. It is the first time since the establishment of democracy in our country that the trade unions have called for two general strikes in the same year, which is a clear sign of the dire emergency that we are going through. Society needs to react to this situation, which could lead to the end of the welfare state and endanger the future of our country. It is also the first time that several general strikes are taking place simultaneously in different European countries.

Austerity does not work, neither in Europe nor in Spain.

The policies for budget balance that were decided in May 2010 have led to a new recession: economic activity is declining, unemployment is on the rise, youth unemployment has reached dramatic levels, the social model is being undermined, social and labour rights are being reduced... We find ourselves in a clearly worse situation than two years ago.

The adjustment policies designed by the PP government, in office since 2011, are plunging the country into an alarming situation:

  • The government has passed a new labour law reform, which weakens collective bargaining and branch collective agreements, prioritising company collective agreements, allowing the unilateral modification of collective agreements by the employers, and making it much easier for the employer to lay off his workforce. More than 9 million workers are still waiting for the negotiation of their collective agreements, with an exponential rise in the procedures for massive layoffs, destruction of employment and an increase in industrial conflicts.
  • Cuts in healthcare, social services, allowances for dependent people, education and research and development are on the rise.
  • The tax burden has been increased, with strong negative effects on people on lower incomes.
  • Wages have been reduced by an average of 3.9%, with a particular impact on public employees.
  • Unemployment benefits are being cut, while there are 1.7 million households where no one has a job.

All these measures will deepen the effects of the crisis and will cause a further surge in unemployment, which is already at 25% (5,778,100 people). Under such conditions, the expected rise in poverty and exclusion comes as no surprise (27% of the Spanish population is already at risk of poverty, which means more than 13 million people). 2.2 million children live in households that are considered to be poor or severely deprived.

Moreover, these measures are not only uneconomic and antisocial, but they have been adopted without previous notice: they were not part of the party's election programme, and are thus a breach of democratic trust.

Due to their absolute failure in economic terms, and their devastating effects that create social injustice, we demand a radical change in the policies that are being applied to tackle the crisis, in Europe and in Spain. The reactivation of the economy and the creation of new jobs should be prioritised, giving special attention to young people, who are being condemned to emigration and social exclusion.

We demand a change in the economic production model, which should be based on sustainable development, investments in R&D and in an education system that guarantees quality and equity. We ask for the reversal of the labour law reform. We demand that unemployment benefits are strengthened, that the increase of pensions is guaranteed and that social policies and the welfare state are re-established.

From the European Union, we ask that it puts an end to the imposition of austerity policies and social and labour cuts, and that it applies the proposal for a joint solution of the crisis of public debt (through the intervention of the European Central Bank, the use of Eurobonds, etc.), and that it develops, together with the European Trade Union Confederation, a proposal for a new European Social Compact, while it evolves towards a true tax, economic, political but above all social union based on democracy.

We invite our trade union colleagues to show their solidarity with our general strike of 14 November, the European Day of Action and Solidarity called by ETUC.

Briefing
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