For live updates (mostly in Spanish and Catalan), follow #HuelgaGeneral, #toma29M, @acampadasol, @acampadabcn, and @occupybarcelona. For English, see @acampadabcn_int.
Across Spain today, the 99% are rising together in a national General Strike in opposition to the government’s pro-business labor reforms and funding cuts to education and other services. In a country where over half of young people are already unemployed, these austerity measures – created solely to appease un-elected European Union bureaucracies and used to protect the interests of powerful international banks and wealthy investors – would demolish decades of hard-won labor rights by making it easier for companies to lay off employees and unilaterally cut wages.
But, like their counterparts in Greece, the Spanish 99% are not responsible for the financial crisis. And they refuse to see their rights stolen to line the pockets of the very banks and institutions who did cause the economic system to collapse – the people who run it: the 1%. Today, the people of Spain are fighting back: across the country, workers left factories and picketed markets, protesters blocked roads, TV stations were forced off-air, flights were cancelled, and train stations closed. The Spanish state has sent in riot police to attack protesters. Only minutes after midnight and the start of the strike, dozens of people had already been arrested.
Tomorrow, Spain’s government is expected to release a new budget that will cut billions of euros in measures supposedly designed to stim Spanish debt and ¨encourage investors.¨ This is the same rhetoric used to excuse the unfair cuts to education, infrastructure, and safety net programs here in North America. It is the same misleading language used by corrupt politicians across the world who, working for the bankers and investors who pay for their election, ram through massively unpopular bailouts and austerity measures that only hurt the 99% to benefit the 1%.
But, as we have seen from Wisconsin to Wall Street, the people are not sitting idly by to watch their rights and livelihoods be stolen by the ultra-wealthy. The Spanish Acampadas/indignados movement helped inspire us to Occupy. Today, we send them our support. And on May 1st, we will show our solidarity with Spanish protesters, and all others across the world, by taking the streets. Unfortunately, U.S. laws make it illegal for unions to endorse a General Strike like the one happening today in Spain. But we, working with our partners in labor and immigrant rights organizations, can.
This May Day: No Work, No School, No Housework, No Shopping, No Banking – TAKE THE STREETS! Here are six ways you can get ready for the May Day General Strike.
Press Release from the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo:
Against the Labor Reform, the cuts, and the assaults on the working class. The CNT rejects any kind of negotiation over the rights conquered by the working class and demands the repeal of the Labor Reform. The CNT’s confederal committee has decided to call a 24-hour general strike for March 29, which will extend the call that has already been made for Galicia and the Basque Country. This call will be formalized in the coming days.
The CNT rejects any kind of negotiation over the rights conquered by the working class through years of struggle. We call for this strike with the primary objective of immediately repealing the the labor reform that was approved yesterday by the Parliament, which we consider a head-on assault against the working class. This reform continues the measures started by the previous government, such as the labor reform of 2010 and the cuts to public employee salaries, to pensions, and to public services, cuts which are being deepened by the current government.
The CNT demands the end of an economic policy designed to make the workers pay for the crisis of the banks and the employers. This policy has led to an unacceptable number of unemployed workers, a number which does not stop growing, as well as to an impoverishment and worsening of the working class’s living conditions.
The CNT also calls this strike against the cuts. The strike will happen the day before the setting of the General State Budget which will incorporate a brutal attack against public services and social rights.
The CNT rejects the agreement reached in February between the CCOO and UGT unions and the employers’ confederation, the CEOE, as well as the amendments that those unions have presented to the parliamentary process of the labor reform. The CNT rejects these amendments as a valid alternative, since they share the spirit of the reform and assume the logic of the employers and the government, who suppose that the only escape from their crisis must come through the workers surrendering their rights, placing the working class into a position of weakness from the start. The same logic has already led these unions to accept the raising of the retirement age to 67, even after the general strike of September 29, 2010.
For the CNT, the strike on March 29 must be only the beginning of a growing and sustained process of mobilization, one which includes the entire working class and the sectors that are most disadvantaged and affected by the capitalist crisis. This mobilization must put the brakes on the dynamic of constant assaults on our rights, while laying the bases for the recovery and conquest of new social rights with the goal of a deep social transformation.
All of these reasons have led the CNT to make this call for March 29 on its own account. With this call the CNT wants to give coverage to everyone who is taking up positions for a real and continued confrontation that will pay back the assaults on the working class with the same force with which we are receiving them, together with all workers’ organizations that share these objectives and reject the policies of agreement and social peace.
For the CNT, a confrontational rejection of the policies and the bureaucratic union model of the CCOO and the UGT, and their discredit among broad groups of workers, must not become excuses not to take action or struggle. Instead, this rejection must spur us on to reinforce our struggle through a different form of unionism – one based on direct action, on autonomy, and on mutual aid. Against assaults of the magnitude that we are facing, working-class unity is fundamental. This unity must take place in the rank-and-file, in workplace and neighborhood assemblies, in industrial actions and pickets, until the mobilization against those who are responsible for and benefit from this situation – the employers, the banks, and the government – is turned into an unstoppable dynamic that raises a barrier against the temptation to turn the rights that belong to everybody into a bargaining chip that belongs to nobody.
It’s time for all workers – unemployed or employed, retired, on the black market, students, and the precarious – to say “Enough!” We must seize the streets rather than abandon them in order to impose our strength and our demands.
March 29 – everyone in the street, everyone in the strike.