Sunday, April 06, 2008
BARCELONA TRANSIT STRIKE- SQUATTERS MAKE COMMON CAUSE WITH BUS DRIVERS:
Sometimes things go as they should. For the last few months the bus drivers in the city of Barcelona Spain have held a series of rotating strikes for better working conditions and wages. The driving force behind these strikes is the anarcho-syndicalist CGT. It is also supported by the other anarcho-syndicalist union in Spain, the CNT. I orginally saw the following article on the Québec platformist site Voix de Faits. It was originally published at the site of Jura Libertaire in France. The French language originals are available at either site. Basically the story is about how anarchist squatters have overcome their prejudices, at least in one city, and made common cause with working class struggles.
When squatters give to the class struggle!
Recall some facts: in Sants, an autonomous squat still resists Capital: Can it live.
… A Squat in May 1997 by young communists it has become a reference point in the autonomous struggles in Barcelona, a tasty mixture of separatists and anarchists…
But in 2007 a complaint was lodged by the owner of the property which is none other than the public transport authority TMB Barcelona (Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona). On 22 January the trial took place, and it was finally won by squatters on 1 February 2008.
But since October 2007 the workers of the TMB have been struggling. These are the drivers of the buses in Barcelona (about 3000) who demand 2 days off per week. The conflict is being conducted by an assembly of workers who decide to follow up their fight. That is to say, a struggle not by unions but by the workers themselves.
And, there are many unions at the TMB: the enterprise committee is composed of 27 union representatives: 5 UGT and 5 CC.OO (FO kind of or CFDT)(more like the French CGT, controlled by the remants of the PCE- the Communist Party of Spain-Molly), 5 SIT (corporatist in the pay of the bosses) 5 ACTUB ( combative corporatist ), 7 CGT (separate branch of the Spanish CNT(actually a TOTALLY separate anarcho-syndicalist union from the CNT, and the largest in Spain-Molly) anarchosyndicalist, strong presence in Barcelona in transport and industry). . Yet only two unions uphold the conflict: the CGT and the ACTUB.
The simmering conflict broke out just before Christmas: 4 single-day strike followed by three others in the New Year. At this point, in light of the trial of Can Vies, contacts were formed between drivers and the squatters' struggle. Meetings bringing together various groups supporting the struggle of drivers were held in Can Vies, see the squatter press such as Contra News or the Info Usurpa for calls for active solidarity with the strikers. . The active solidarity took the form of tags throughout the city, collage of posters consisting of acts of support before the city councils in the neighbourhood, sabotage (about 200 buses damaged during different periods of the strike - tires holes, tags on the windshields or paint balls thrown at the buses operating outside the established minimum hours), participating in picketing… and panel discussions in the squats with bus drivers (Can Vies, Blokes Fantasma, at the Ateneu Popular 'Aixample, Teixidora, Revoltosa and lots of others that I forget).
The highlight came after the victory of Can Vies. The district Sants began a campaign: we won the case and now we are going to win the two days rest per week. On February 9, 5000 people marched through the streets of Barcelona in solidarity with bus drivers who were on strike. Including many squatters distributed behind the independence signs or even the CNT Can Vies.
. And the struggle continues. opinion… Management does not bend, and persists in signing declarations of war against the strikers, sending police to escort the buses at the garage exit, charges and detention of two drivers, a defamatory press campaign (articles as "escalation of violence "), a counter-propaganda campaign by the company to isolate the strikers and influence public opinion… . Yet drivers not yield. After another week of a strike in early March (from 3 to 7 March) they continue to strike every Thursday. And even though 50 of them were punished for actions of sabotage and, as if by chance ,10 of the 11 delegates to the assembly workers were amongst them.
More info on the blog of the assembly of drivers.