INTERNATIONAL LABOUR SPAIN:
MEANWHILE IN BARCELONA:
As a follow up to the information posted here on the eviction of the Catalan CGT from their offices at 16-18 Via Laietana in Barcelona....
Well, the eviction was successful, but on Monday, January 17, according to an article in the CGT's newspaper Rojo Y Negro, 200 members of the CGT occupied a disused courthouse a few doors away at 8-10 Via Laietana. The irony and indeed the humour wasn't lost on me. If memory serves me well (which it doesn't always) the area of Via Laientana was once a rather important thoroughfare, but it has fallen on increasingly hard times, and I suspect there is a surfeit of abandoned buildings in the area. I like the courthouse idea, and it's even more amusing that the CGT militants didn't have to travel very far to set up new digs. I viewed a video of the occupation from the CGT Catalunya, and I must say it is heartening to see a broad mixture of people of all age groups participating and not a single weird looking bugger amongst them. The photo above shows the occupiers posing at the doorway and on the balcony. In the video the people are singing a rousing chorus of 'A Las Barricadas', the semi-official Spanish anarchist "anthem".
The Catalan authorities, however, failed to share Molly's fine sense of humour and irony. Neither were they appreciative of the musical talent on display. After some argument the police entered the building to evict the occupiers. According to report cited above about a hundred people were charged with "usurpación y desobediencia". Not being familiar with Catalan law I am inclined to translate this as "trespassing and obstructing (the police)". The latter charge is unclear as I suspect just how much you have to obey a police order is as vague in Catalonia as it is in Canada. It might be more or less serious.
According to the report above and another report at the main website of the CGT there will be a meeting in Madrid tomorrow, January 20, where the Spanish Labour Ministry will once more be pressed to provide a definitive solution to the demands of the CGT for union premises. These are demands that have the historical right behind them of a return of union assets that were seized under the fascist Franco regime. Furthermore the Ministry promised as far back as November 30, 2007 (same article) that the demands of the CGT in Barcelona would be accommodated. It should be noted that the CGT had been in residence at 16-18 Via Laietana for 21 years at the time they were evicted.
Tomorrow's meeting will coincide with a number of demonstrations being held across Spain in a run up to the planned General Strike on January 27 in Catalonia, Navarra, Galicia and the Basque country. These are the areas of Spain where the CGT and other unions to the left of the socialist UGT and the communist CCOO feel they have enough support to make a decent showing. Demonstrations and meetings will be held in other parts of the country. A number of workers' assemblies such as that for Barcelona transit have already voiced their support for this new general strike. A cynic might suspect that the urgency in evicting the CGT from its premises in Barcelona at this time just might be a tiny bit connected to a certain nervousness on the part of both the government and the larger bureaucratic unions (UGT and CCOO). But of course one could never suspect the angels of the state and the "official leftists" of the unions of anything so underhanded. Could we ?????