|Written by Martin Ralph, ISL|
|Thursday, 13 September 2012 03:37|
The Spanish miners’ strike struck a powerful note within the British working class and there was widespread support. After 67 days the strike and mine occupations ended but without any concessions from the government. What happened?
The Spanish government has rescued Bankia, which is Spain’s fourth largest bank, with €23.5 billion. As our Spanish party, Corriente Roja, said, “For thieves, tax evaders and defrauders there is absolute tolerance. So far this year alone €163 billion have left the country. Yet for the miners the €200 million Euros needed is ‘unaffordable’.’
The government has accelerated the demise of the mining industry by planning to axe its operating aid by 63 per cent on average this year and to cut production by 40 per cent. They say they cannot continue subsidizing coal, yet state energy is being run with a deficit of €24 billion this year.
The parallels between Spain and Britain are striking, even though austerity has accelerated in Spain with mass unemployment, hundreds of house evictions daily, hospital charges are now 50 per cent of the cost of the treatment for each visit and more. Make no mistake the British ruling class intends the austerity programme to go in the same way. In Spain the economy is crashing, and it is in Spain where our future can be seen.
One reason solidarity for the miners grew here is the recognition that we are all in the same struggle. The Spanish miners supported the British miners in 1984/85 and they had a glorious history in the struggle against fascism.
The most visible sign of workers support in Britain came with the visit by Segundo Menendez Collar, a striking Asturian miner and coordinator of the Left Trade Union Current (CSI – La Corriente Sindical de Izquierda) in Cangas, Narcea, who spoke at the Unite the Resistance conference in June. He spoke very movingly.
In July, Spanish miners’ representatives attended the miners Gala from the largest trade union federations in Spain, the UGT and CCOO.
On 21 July a Spanish Miners’ Solidarity Committee (SMSC) was formed with the support of the Durham Miners Association, the TUC and the CCOO with the aim of spreading “news and information about the Spanish miners’ strike” and raising money to go to the UGT and CCOO. The Left Trade Union Current (CSI) should also gain our support.
But in addition to money, direct connections with miners and workers in different countries have to be built. When Marx said, in the Communist Manifesto, workers of the world should unite, it was meant in the fullest sense to link the most combative sections of workers directly together.
Corriente Roja, our party in Spain reported recently that “…The leaders of CCOO and UGT, the CCOO Secretary General, Javier Lopez, insisted on the position of defeatism when he said: ‘We have a fierce opponent, which is the crisis, provoking a disastrous consequence which is unemployment’ and ‘the enemy of the unions is not the business owners, but the crisis and the loss of jobs’.
Cándido Mendez from the UGT, in turn, said they are ‘willing to face a wage restraint,’ which ‘would mean accepting that growth is below inflation,’ and also that ‘effective contracts can become temporary contracts, in exceptional circumstance’ and to create a fund capitalization that ‘would serve to companies financing part of the layoffs.’ Clearly the CCOO and UGT leadership is similar to the TUC leadership in Britain. They have no demands for a general strike, no demands for nationalisation under the control of the miners and communities, and no plan to defeat the government.
When the march of the miners arrived in Madrid on 11 July, thousands turned out to greet them. Independent unions formed a section of 25,000 people which was led by miners from Cangas de Narcea and Mieres (Asturias) and Sil Matarrosa (El Bierzo), the first one belonging to the Left Union Current (CSI).
In an event in the evening there was a common platform including the independent unions, 15M (a radical movement that has demonstrated in many cities in Spain since May 15 2011) and the occupy movements. It was a resounding success.
“It was a great victory that helps forge a fighting, democratic alternative. Events like this show that alternative unionism can and should play a bigger role in the struggle. The national alternative union meeting called for September 8 should give a qualitative
step forward in promoting the general strike and advance the creation of a class and democratic pole.” Corriente Roja.
The Basque union association, the IGC in Galicia, alternative unionism in the Canary Island (led by Cobas) is calling a general strike for September 26 and 27. Pressure is on the CCOO and UGT to do the same.
“The general strike cannot be a mere protest strike without continuity and should be democratically controlled by the rank and file in general assemblies. It should include, among other issues, the miners’ demands to end police repression, withdrawal of the attacks on public employees and the unemployed, the repeal of the labour reform and pensions, the immediate suspension of payment of the debt to the bankers and speculators. And of course out with Rajoy and the troika!” Corrient Roja. On 9 August the Union of Committees of Base (COBAS) issued the following statement:
“On Monday 6 August five members of the miners Council in Cangas de Narcea were arrested by the Civil Guard. The miners belong to the SOMA-UGT, CCOO and CSI…This persecution is clearly intended to intimidate the miners and take the most determined fighters hostage to break their resistance.”
Support for the Spanish miners must continue and we should demand the release of all miners and the dropping of all charges.
Meanwhile in Brazil between 15-23 Augusts, Conlutas (the militant left union federation in Brazil) has organised a tour for the miners’ leader Jose Gonzalez Marin from the CSI (Corriente Association of Izquierdas) who works for Hunosa the state mining company in Asturias.
support for the Spanish miners must continue!
The following motion that was supported by Liverpool and Merseyside TUCs and Unite 567 Branch during the strike retains its full force and should be supported by other trade union branches and community organisation.
· “We want to show our support to the Spanish miner’s just fight.
· We find it outrageous that the Government uses millions to rescue the bankers, as they recently did with Bankia, while they slash subsidies to the coal industry, not giving a single solution to the workers and dooming the miners’ areas to misery.
· We demand the Government repeals the suspension of coal aid and begins a plan of industrialization in the mining areas to ensure work and a future for miners and their families.
· “We hold the Spanish government responsible for the police brutality and for any tragedy that might happen, and we demand an end to the attacks by the Civil Guard, freedom of the miners arrested and the dismissal of all court proceedings brought against them. “
· Send messages of support to: email@example.com