Spanish state

Crises, attacks and acts of resistance


By Federico Grom

By: Clase contra Clase (Spanish state)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

One of the worst phantoms that has been going over Europe is becoming reality: the need to set up a bailout for the Spanish state. But the payment of this bailout is making the Spanish state’s debt increase, which generates even more doubts among the “creditors” and the “markets” concerning the possibility of recovering their money. As a result, this brings a rise in interest for the debt that is now at the level of 7%, and, therefore, in this spiral, harsher recipes for saving capitalism. However, this will not be without acts of resistance, like the fight the miners are putting up.

Rajoy’s government briefly passed from the initial demagogic speeches, with a tinge of asserting sovereignty – that were quickly modified, facing a demand from Brussels – to presenting the bailout, with dozens of euphemisms, as a victory without contrasts. The reality is quite different, since it will entail the biggest cut in social spending in Spanish history after the democratic transition, in a state that has undergone a de facto intervention.

An unprecedented attack

Ultimately, the new cuts by the Rajoy government, approved in the Council of Ministers on July 13, amount to 54 billion. Among the measures taken and published in the Official State Bulletin are the increase of the VAT to 21%, the cut in unemployment insurance, the elimination of Christmas extra pay, elimination of public workers’ collective contracts, increase of the working day, reductions of state aid to dependent people, privatizations and liberalizing measures. A battery of cuts, that attempts to meet the deficit target, that will mean the impoverishment of all society’s strata of workers and the urban poor, beginning with those that until now had borne the crisis better (public officials) and also groups of the petite bourgeoisie, like trade, that are going to succumb to the liberalization of their group (freedom of business hours).

In addition to cost sharing and measures to control public expenditure, the government is carrying out a reorganization of the state, with a re-centralizing tone. It is preparing interventions in autonomous regions and municipal governments; it is inflexible regarding the deficit targets; it wants to legislate about responsibilities that are already transferred.

This austerity plan, as part of the conditions imposed by the financial bailout, will be examined by the “men in black” from the EU every three months. Undoubtedly one of biggest advances of the Spanish bourgeoisie over the welfare state that is loading the bill for the crisis onto the backs of millions of workers.

Many analysts are already predicting a brake on consumption that will have an impact on several thousands of new layoffs. Even the government itself has restrained itself, stating that “in the short term,” it could have negative effects for the economy and employment. All this, while it is keeping and expanding embarrassing privileges for the defrauders and tax evaders, among whom are included the big firms and the highest incomes.

Public workers are resisting the cuts

Already, since they were announced days before they were approved, the cuts provoked street blockades, demonstrations and spontaneous gatherings of several hundred public employees, to reject the cuts of the government and asking for its resignation, in different cities, that resulted in confrontations with the police, in their main center of Madrid. Among these were several street blockades by hospital workers. This is the trail of mobilizations and street blockades, left by the miners’ day in the capital, incited by the announcement of the new cuts. The workers of Radio Televisión Valenciana (RTVV), facing the threat of the dismissal of 70% of the staff, spontaneously occupied the studio, impeding the broadcast of the television news bulletin and transmitting a message of protest from their studios. A day later, the workers of Telemadrid organized a demonstration in solidarity with their comrades from RTVV.

One sign of the climate experienced in the capital is the fact that several days after the demonstrations in support of the miners in Madrid, a detachment with a lot of policemen and a permanent fence of the Congress of Deputies, is still set up.

In this framework, the miners’ struggle is continuing, after more than 52 days since the indefinite strike of this group began. Meanwhile, the USO (Unión Sindical Obrera), the majority in the Hullera de León, tried to carry out a maneuver to lift the strike, by announcing the return to work and thus divide the workers’ struggle. On July 12, this union held a meeting with the Industry Ministry, where, according to this same union, they considered “the possible solutions and alternatives that will allow the maintenance of the maximum of employment in the coal-mining areas and, in turn, put an end to the current conflict in mining.” Despite these attempts, the miners’ strike still continues, and its schedule of mobilizations goes on, among which, the actions of the miners in different local offices of the government of the autonomous regions, in which they participate jointly with the public-sector workers, stand out. In the entire country, a demonstration this July 19 has been called by the majority unions, CCOO (Comisiones Obreras) and UGT, in more than seventy Spanish cities, which the alternative unions and hundreds of social organizations will join.

Now there is even talk about a general strike in September, that the majority unions were thinking about for October, but they had to move it up, a result of of the government’s announcements and pressure from the action of big groups of their rank and file, although they are still thinking about it, in the words of the CCOO leader, Toxo, “very calmly.”

In turn, the government is getting ready to confront the resistance to its plans with more repression and criminalization of the social protests. Among those most recently prosecuted are two miners from Oviedo, who were tried for roadblocks, while arrests continue to take place, a result of the September 29 [2010] General Strike.

For a unified response from the working class

This new attack must be confronted with the coordination of all the struggles. Of the teachers, health-care workers, students, workers in struggle against the Dismissal Programs (a legal recourse to facilitate layoffs) and wage reductions. We must unite, to strike as a single fist at the government, in favor of our demands, as the miners set forth in the closing ceremony of the Black March at the Puerta del Sol. For that, it is necessary to demand and fight so that the leaderships of the CCOO and the UGT, with Toxo and Méndez at the front, will break their policy of containment, and so that we will go to a new general strike that will be the start of a real plan of struggle, discussed in hundreds of assemblies in the workplaces, universities and neighborhoods.

The miners’ struggle could be the spearhead to spread organization and struggle to all the groups, to impose a workers’ program against the crisis, opposed to that of the capitalists. Where the mines will be nationalized under workers’ control, where work will be distributed without a pay cut, to put an end to mass unemployment, and all banking will be nationalized under workers’ control, without compensation. In this way, to put all the means of the economy to meet the needs of the working-class majority of society and not in the profits of a handful of tycoons and exploiters.

July 18, 2012

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