Wednesday, June 16, 2010


As Molly mentioned earlier on this blog the turnout for the June 8 public sector general strike was generally considered poor despite the claims of the two major union federations, the CCOO and the UGT. This may have , at least partially, been because neither the CCOO nor the UGT had much real enthusiasm for the strike, and thus they were half hearted in their organization. It may also have been that a public sector only (one day) general strike was the wrong tactical decision, pitting non-public sector workers against the strikers. There may have been many other factors as well.

However that may be the anarchosyndicalist CGT estimated that it achieved an overall participation rate amongst its public service members of 50%, putting it far ahead of the rate achieved by the larger unions. The CGT has generally been estimated to represent about 10% of the Spanish workforce as measured by 'union elections' in the workplaces. Perhaps encouraged by this the CGT has ramped up its efforts to pressure the CCOO to call a real general strike earlier than the September 29 date that the CCOO has set forth in cooperation with the UGT.

The CGT has proposed a date of June 30, perhaps an unrealistically early date to organize such a thing but far better than waiting over three months by which times people are much more likely to have become resigned to the government's measures. Perhaps the best date would be somewhere in between. One might doubt that the UGT leaders have any honest disagreements with what the Zapatero government is proposing and that their opposition is pure showmanship. Any real general strike is from their point of view best put off as long as possible. The CCOO whose leadership is made up of Stalinists who kept their union positions even while the Spanish Communist Party was disintegrating are no doubt playing their own game, hoping to appear the "toughest" of the two major federations while also not having to accept responsibility for another failed strike like that of June 8.

Both unions are helped by the fact that while the so-called labour "reforms" have been passed by government decree they are still not law until they pass Parliament, This will be difficult and involve some compromise...the Socialists are 7 seats short of a majority, but there is little doubt that the measures will for the most part become law. All of this is in a context where it is likely that the EU and IMF are putting together contingency plans to bail out Spain should it go the way of Greece. Various European governments have been falling all over themselves declaring that there is no such plan (a sure sign that there is one ?) this week as borrowing costs for the Spanish government (a measure of investor confidence) have soared almost 45% in the course of a month.

The CGT's proposal, of course, has a snowball's chance in hell of being accepted by the CCOO, let alone the UGT, and the CGT is far too small to try and carry out such a thing on their own. What they are probably doing, however, is playing for the long term, trying to position themselves as the real opposition as workers become disillusioned with the attitude of the UGT and CCOO, especially as the government's present measures are unlikely to be either the last or the worst of the attacks on social rights that are coming. for some time now it has been the policy of the CGT to call for an unlimited real general strike. This proposal to the CCOO should be seen as one move in their long term efforts. What follows is the CGT press release from their website.
The General Confederation of Labour proposes to CCOO the convening of a general strike for June 30

The General Confederation of Labour has today addressed a letter to Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, Secretary General of the CCOO, proposing the convening of a unified general strike for June 30.

With the economic crisis of recent years, which is hitting the workers so cruelly, it is combined with the latest measures taken by the Government to reduce the deficit by sharply attacking the public employees, pensioners and a set of social benefits and rights that are going to disappear dramatically. Now the Government announces a new labor reform by decree in a purely authoritarian style .

The CGT union views these measures announced in the new labor reform as extremely negative. The CGT also believes that they justify in themselves a forceful response by all Spanish trade unions.

The CGT going to put forth, as it has done in the recent public sector general strike , all its organizational capacity and commitment to make the general strike of June 30 a success.

The General Confederation of Labour believes that the working class and the public will not understand if the unions will not give at this time a rapid response to this serious attack which once more is against labor and social rights.


No comments: