Monday, May 1, 2023
This May Day is once again marked by inflation and the demand for a wage increase in line with the rise in prices. Also due to the demand for a fair distribution of business profits and the reinforcement of public services. The unions agree on the demands but, as usual, only CC OO and UGT attend the meeting together. On that occasion, in addition, to the traditional division between the confederate centrals and the nationalists is added an open war between ELA and LAB, which have had a harsh exchange of accusations in recent weeks.
In this climate of tension, the general secretary of ELA, Mitxel Lakuntza, has once again expressed his chest that the Basque Country concentrates 56% of the strikes in Spain, a success that he attributes to the union and that he considers key to achieving “more and better agreements ». Hence his motto is ‘Borrokan, irabazteko’ (In the fight, to win). In this sense, he has boasted that “when ELA is not there, wage increases are half” and has directly criticized LAB for joining CC OO and UGT, which in his opinion allows employers to sign worse agreements. He has also attacked the Urkullu government for prioritizing projects such as the TAV and joining the interests of Iberdrola and Petronor, at the same time that he has criticized the lack of alternative on the part of the left. «It seems more and more to the right. We are concerned about the commitment to institutional moderation, to underline consensus”, in a clear allusion to EH Bildu.
On behalf of LAB, the demonstration in Bilbao was led by its general coordinator, Igor Arroyo, who also proudly highlighted that half of the strikes take place in Euskadi. But he has accompanied the message with a clear criticism of ELA, without citing it, warning that “in order to win the fight against the employers, it is necessary to organize inter-union struggles, and that the objective of union action is not to make profits as a union, but to advance as a union.” class”. He has claimed that LAB represents the new Basque trade unionism, with initiatives to “build the Basque Republic”. At the start of his speech, he mentioned the presence of former ETA prisoners in the march, while he stressed that they have managed to bring everyone closer to Euskal Herria.
CC OO and Euskadi UGT have joined forces under the motto ‘Raise wages, lower prices, distribute benefits’. The general secretary of the CC OO, Loli García, and her counterpart from the UGT, Raúl Arza, have led the demonstration in Bilbao, which has crossed the Gran Vía and have valued the achievements achieved both in the Basque Country and on a national scale, without leaving to recall the pending challenges, especially in terms of agreements.
The person in charge of CC OO has indicated that this “is a day of vindication and struggle, but also to vindicate all the agreements that we have reached through mobilization, collective bargaining and social dialogue”. “We have managed to improve the lives of many people and their working conditions,” she said. García has also sent a message to those companies that still keep wages frozen: “Either the wealth is shared, or wages are raised, or there will be a conflict,” she stressed.
The UGT representative also wanted to show “pride” for the achievements, such as the increase in the Minimum Interprofessional Wage to address the wage gap. “It should be remembered that only four years ago the SMI was at 736 euros,” stressed Arza, who in turn cited the 8.5% increase this year in pensions and the agreements reached for the future of these benefits. “We have known how to combine mobilization with negotiation and with the agreement and I think we have to be proud.” «We still have many things to do. This is the commitment to continue fighting », he added.
The first mobilizations to tour Bilbao’s Gran Vía have been those organized by CNT and LSB-USO. The former pointed out that after this day of “fighting”, “tomorrow we will continue fighting in the workplace.” The motto of the Unión Sindical Obrera, which denounced the devaluation of wages and that the Basque Country continues to lead the unemployment rate in the European Union, also in youth unemployment, was ‘Salaries to (sur)live’.
- CCOO (Workers Commissions)
- UGT General Union of Workers
- Basque Country