Why I’ll be taking part in Spain’s general strike (29S)

This September 29th, a general labour strike will take place across Spain. The strike is supported by all the major trade unions (CC.OO, UGT, CGT, CNT et al).

The strike has been called against economic and labour reforms proposed by Zapatero’s PSOE government, ostensibly to save Spain’s economy. Those of us taking part reject the PSOE’s legislation for various reasons. Here are some of them:

  • Sacking people will be made easier and cheaper for businesses, with some of the cost absorbed by public funds.
  • It’ll be made easier for companies which choose not to correctly apply collective labour agreements.
  • More permanent workers will be forced onto temporary contracts with fewer rights.
  • Labour will be further marketised, and safety standards will drop due to the use of temporary employment agencies.
  • The reforms will force workers to compete for worse paid jobs, with fewer rights.
  • Freezing pensions will increase the number of people living in poverty.
  • Public services will suffer by withdrawing funding and cutting salaries.
  • Taxes on the rich have not been increased.
  • The banks, who are to blame for much in this country, have received much public money they’re yet to return.
  • Now the IMF and OECD are calling for investment, not cuts, to protect our economies and our societies.
  • There is a general attempt across Europe to break our social model and push for a less equal society. This must be resisted.
  • Failure to show solidarity and resistance this time around will only mean worse if the PP get in after the next elections.

All workers are permitted to take part in the general strike. The law states that you must inform your employer at least 5 days before the strike of your intention to take part.

I urge my fellow workers to join in and show your disapproval of Zapatero’s reforms.

(Update: The text above has been adapted into an English-language flier for non-Spanish speaking workers in some workplaces in Barcelona. You can access the flier for printing and distribution here.)

36 thoughts on “Why I’ll be taking part in Spain’s general strike (29S)

  1. At the risk of being pilloried for ill-thought-out comments, I’ll just give you my gut feelings. I am an autonomo, who aspires to be an employer. It seems to me that Spain’s labour laws are very heavily biased in favour of the employee. The costs of getting rid of an employee on a permanent contract are ridiculous. The cost of Social Security right now for me as an autonomo is ridiculous. I’m expected to pay €275 per month, and all I get for that is health care (not ‘free’ in any sense of the word) and a pittance of a pension after 15 years of contributions. If I have no work for a few months, can I claim Dole? No.

    Will a general strike improve anything? No, of course not.

    I do agree that all banks everywhere need a pretty good slapping, kicking, throat-slashing, whatever, but a general strike won’t deliver that, will it?

    1. “It seems to me that Spain’s labour laws are very heavily biased in favour of the employee” – unfortunately not the case. Spain’s labour laws have been attacked by the PP and the PSOE, often at the instigation of already-very-rich conglomerate owners and bank managers.

      “I’m expected to pay €275 per month, and all I get for that is health care (not ‘free’ in any sense of the word)” – I don’t believe that you’re so ignorant that you don’t see the difference between ‘free’ as in ‘no one pays for it’ and ‘free’ as in ‘free at the point of service’. The point of national health care is that whatever happens to you, you’re covered. The alternative is the United States where a large swathe of the poorest in society have little or no cover.

      “Will a general strike improve anything? No, of course not. ” – well, not with that attitude, they won’t. You’re an autonomo, which means you’ve decided to go it alone. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it clearly makes you feel disconnected from other working people. But look at the fact that your future pension might also be under attack, and that your taxes have also been hoovered up by insolvent banks. Even if you feel no sense of solidarity with your fellow workers, you should be able to see that cuts and slashed wages are not the way out of Spain’s crisis.

      This isn’t just to do with the banks, though. They’re to blame for part of the crisis, but the Spanish government is also to blame. Now, to fix their mistakes, they’re taking it out on the workers.

      Finally, yes, strikes do work. When they are successful, they convince governments and employers to look for another way of solving the structural problems that they created and profited from.

      The alternative is to sit on your arse and moan.

      1. KB has a point there, but I have to agree that Tom’s position strikes at the core. Even though it was true (what I am not able to determine) that the Spanish government had no choice but to come up with these measures, workers have to stand up and say “prou”. Not only for specific demands, not only to defend themselves in any global sense, but because it’s us, self-employed included, who must not be silent when an unfair and obsolete system is being forced and re-forced down our throughts. We cannot be that gullible.

        If this strike does not happen we’re only left with, precisely, sitting on our arses and moaning ’til Kingdom come. Not only the workers, but all of social justice is at stake and the streets have to be taken to, or else the debate ends up being purely academic. Which is when, faced with no popular opposition, the powers that be are happy to continue on their path back to the late 19th century.

  2. Tomski, I’m in a bit of a quandary here. I do consider myself to be a bit of a pinko leftie bastard, but at the same time I am an entrepreneur. In my years between school and uni (2 gap years, but they weren’t called that then), one of the jobs I had was with British Aerospace. It was a factory floor job, a closed shop: so I had to join the Union of Metal-Bashers and Cleat-Makers. They called a four-hour strike one day – not the normal strike where you just didn’t turn up for work – you were there, but just not working. Anyway, nobody had told me about this, so a couple of hours into the strike, I bent a few bits of metal (we weren’t exactly overworked there, the Union had seen to that – I would have preferred to do the one hour a day when I actually had to make bits of aeroplanes at the time of my choosing and then go off to pursue my real career as a rock star). The shop steward, who also the shop manager, came over and told me about this strike thing.

    Look, my dad was a coal miner in South Yorkshire. During the UTTERLY FUCKING FUTILE Miners strikes of 1974 and 1984/85, we lived like savages. You cannot imagine what it was like. It kind of shaped my life. I’m a white-collar dude, Tom. going on strike isn’t something white-collar dudes do.

    Compound that with my years in the Middle East, where striking is just, plain, illegal, I really can’t see the point of this action.

    As for not ‘feeling solidarity with fellow workers’, get a grip Tomski. Everybody’s trying their best to make a living. Except for those who aren’t, because the State provides for them quite well.

    Bottom line: I work my ass off to get money. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Simples. All Western governments MUST make cuts (or just do the sensible thing of making the bankers repay what they stole from the global economy), nobody’s happy about it, but shutting the country down for a day will not change a damn thing

    1. “Bottom line: I work my ass off to get money. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Simples. All Western governments MUST make cuts”

      1) I work very hard too. I also don’t get paid if I go on strike. I’m not a fucking idiot, nor do I sleep on a bed of roses. I’m very lucky in that I work for a decent company and am treated well. Not everyone can say that.

      2) The IMF and the OECD are now strongly warning AGAINST cuts as a way of solving the crisis. You know what cuts do? They kill jobs. They reduce tax revenue. They produce a situation of permanent employment for many people.

      You’re right: I can’t imagine what it was like in the 80s when you and your family were battered by Thatcher’s anti-union machine. That doesn’t make all strikes wrong or pointless.

    2. Is Catalonia already independent? Which state provides well for the unemployed?

      Spain does not. Really really not.

      Hell, guys, we do not only need a strike, we need a revolution!

  3. I have a great job and to tell the truth I can’t complain one bit about my current status, nor I’m particularly affected by the labour law changes. So why should I go to the strike, right? But hey, I’m going. Because things NEED to be changed. Because we can’t just ignore when our rights, that took so much effort to our ancestors to get, are being taken away. If we don’t complain they will just keep doing it, this government and the next ones.

    Today is employees’ rights. So you as self-employed “laugh” and say you don’t need to go to the strike. You can’t seriously think that you will not be affected at some point, directly by more of these fantastic laws or indirectly by the effects of labour laws like this one. Maybe big companies will get away, just like banks. But the small entrepreneurs will have even more trouble.

    We’ve seen it over the years. Unemployment and work uncertainty cause people to have less purchasing power, consume less and less, and the first affected are usually the small business. Which have to fire people or offer cheaper salaries/worse contracts, which cause unemployment and work uncertainty, which cause people to…… No need to continue, right? We’re definitely not getting out of the circle this way, specially with the general high debt families have.

    What will the strike accomplish? Will it change things over the night? Of course not. Will it fix unemployment? Most likely not. But if we cause enough impact they will think twice about making a move like this again. And start working for us, instead of for themselves, the banks and their BBFs in big companies.

    Heh, and that probably won’t happen either, but it’s the first step. As Candide says, what we really need is a revolution. But if people can’t even move their arses from the sofa to go to a simple strike, a revolution is highly unlikely. I suppose it’s time to start looking for another country to relocate to. Or continent, or planet…

    1. You agree that we’re faced with a problem that is not only acute, but even risks the very achievements of our ancestors. The turning back the clock problem one might say.

      And you’re being even more practical and see the issue in a macroeconomic light.

      So you’ll take to the streets.

      On the other hand, you are dreaming about settling in that utopian elsewhere.

      Your English is perfect.

      You have a great job and a good status.

      Plus you are female.

      Will you marry me?

  4. I do not support the strike. Workers’ rights are all very nice, but right now we have a more pressing problem which is a strikingly high unemployment rate. I agree with giving up some rights if doing so is going to help reduce unemployment. I don’t know whether these reforms will do it, but at least it’s a step towards something… Doing nothing is not an option.

    1. “el Primo” – none of what you’ve written makes any sense whatsoever.

      As I’ve already stated, the IMF and OECD are now warning against cuts as a way to stimulate the economy. Instead, they recommend that governments invest in infrastructure.

      These changes to employment law have nothing to do with ‘creating jobs’. They’re exclusively about making it easier for employers to sack people or employ them only on very short temporary contracts, with fewer rights.

      When people are treated like this, and when they have their wages cut (as has happened to the entire civil service), they spend less. When people spend less, banks get worried and stop lending to small businesses, which then collapse. Seriously, this is basic economics and you seem to be reading from the supply-side prayer book.

      I’m glad not everyone thinks like you or we’d be screwed.

      1. I am aware that cuts will only depress the economy further, but it’s not like governments don’t want to continue to spend, they simply can’t because they’ve run out of sheckles. So, unless they start printing bank notes… and even then the Euro-zone countries can’t do that.
        These countries need borrow money from the international financial markets, which are in a position to demand reforms, and the reform of the labour market is one such reform. In the light of that, governments have two alternatives: either they make the reforms and get the money so that they can continue to spend to some degree, or they don’t and the whole public sector collapses overnight.
        I’m not saying that I’m happy with this situation, I’m just saying this is the way it is.

        1. I’m not an expert in economics, but to my understanding, the state is now spending money on 4 million of unemployed, which, if they were working, would provide money to the state instead through taxes (plus they would help the economy with their production). So why not focus on fixing this and help generate new work or do a serious effort to re-educate unemployed? Why make easier for companies to sack people and destroy good job positions, how is that going to help?

          Oh wait, here’s their master plan: they will get rid of the most expensive employees and hire others that will do the exact same job, for less money and in worse conditions (and cheaper to sack afterwards). So now you have two people affected, the sacked (unemployment rate stays the same) and the poor soul who accepted a worse job (purchasing power and stability going down). And despite the lower cost of the new employees, we probably won’t see a (significant) decrease in price of the final product. How can this be possibly right?? Spanish salaries are already almost half of other EU countries and living costs are way too similar to think it’s acceptable.

          So, I really, really, really find stupid that unemployed say they don’t support the strike because they don’t have a job. By their words I would almost assume they intend to stay unemployed forever. But it’s more than likely that most of them expect to find a job soon and are looking hard for one, right? And when they find it, do they think these laws won’t apply to them? Think again.

          I know the situation is desperate for some, but please, think of your future. Do you think you will have one, if they have free way to transform stable and well paid jobs into temporal and low paid contracts? Don’t you people wish to get one of these good jobs? Then why let the government destroy them?

          I think people don’t realise the real root of the problem and its solution. Too focused on blaming this or that, envying people with a (better) job, pointing fingers between employed and self-employed, criticising syndicates because they are just there for the picture, I’ve seen it all. But all that is irrelevant, what matters is that we all have to demand changes in how things work at the moment. But good ones. If we don’t do it then we simply don’t deserve anything better than what we’ve got.

          P.S. Since it’s becoming popular again thanks to a certain song, here’s a link to a great speech by Mario Savio (whom I didn’t know until a couple weeks ago). It is a different scenario, but the words have full meaning in our situation as well, specially the end part:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_Evj799CQ4

          1. Speaking of being an expert or not when a good degree of common sense helps to get a clear view not only on the strike itself but also on the larger picture.

            And yes, apply some principles, which only those can who have them.

            Spot on, Aby, and Tom, who certainly agrees with you.

            This state is not ruled by the workers and/or for them. It is ruled (by whoisit-whodunnit) for the banks, for the “gestorias” and for those other leeches, like firms that get rich on giving poorly-mounted and ill-regulated courses to the unemployed, all of whom cost us our public and/or private savings.

            And once we’re left without a job and without any savings, and a pennyless state cannot anymore come to assist us even though policy has changed meanwhile (what a laugh), we’ll be willing to take any job under the most degrading conditions and even kill our neighbour over it.

            Which is a situation not so far in the future: I’m self-employed too, some organs of the State are among my clients, and they behave exactly like any stone-age capitalist would. It IS already degrading, and it’s neither “obreo”, nor “socialist”, nor even…. common sense.

            It shows symptoms of ceasing to be a state at all.

          2. “Why make easier for companies to sack people?”

            Everyone has talked about the disadvantages of these new rules that enable one to get fired more easily. But actually, there is a possible benefit, and I think workers will potentially be better off, albeit the slight decrease in job security. Firms are currently very apprehensive about employing new staff as with the fear of a “double-dip” recession, it may be that they will later have to lay off staff again, which would add significantly to costs.
            However, with this new legislation, firms will be happier to take on new workers and therefore more unemployed will get jobs, the government would receive more from taxes, growth will follow and everyone will be happier. No problems there. I’m not going on strike!

  5. I log onto Toms excellent blog from time to time. I agree with his views on racial/social equality and admit that I do not have anything close to his knowledge on current political affairs (in truth I have never followed any political party). On this however I disagree with him because I think he is only looking at the issue from the view of the employee and not taking into account the many companies that are struggling to compete in the current global market here in Spain.

    The only good thing that has come from the recession that we are still very much in is that many of the old style Spanish Family firms have gone to the wall. We have a definite class system here in Spain just as in the UK but here the good old boys had a firm grip on business that had its foundations in the Franco era which was no good for the Spanish economy or their employees.
    Any company director with an ounce of intelligence knows that you can make your workers do the job but you cannot MAKE them do it well, unless you treat them well.

    Do we need the old labour laws and do we need a general strike?

    Absolutely not.

    The strike, albeit for just one day is still a day of trading lost for many small companies in a time that they can well do without it. One day might not sound like much to many but believe me if you are competing in the current market every trading day counts.
    I can speak from first hand experience on the old labour laws, that will thank god be changed strike or no strike.
    I will not go into detail or names but if “an employer” has a worker who decides they would rather do something else they need not tell the boss that they will be leaving in a couple of weeks and work out their notice.
    No instead the employee can decide to do nothing at work, arrive late or not come at all and then hire a lawyer to negotiate a highly inflated settlement figure.
    I can tell you now the result of that kind of behaviour, which is common place in this country is that employers are reluctant to take on full time staff which in turn slows down the growth of their company and also leaves many good qualified workers unemployed. Please don’t think this is a theory of mine, this is what I have learned from personal experience and also talking to other employers who have to think if they really need the person sitting across from them in the interview.

    I am all for employers treating their staff in a correct and fair manner but lets get real, we will never compete with companies from the UK, Germany and so on if we don’t put in the extra effort to do so.

    The Spanish economy has changed and the way Spanish businesses conduct themselves will change in due course, if they don’t they will die so I say lets get to work and do something positive, a strike is so 70s don’t you think?

  6. Totally support the general strike and will be travelling to Barcelona to join the CNT-AIT contingent in solidarity. The working-class of Europe is facing a massive onslaught from our rulers as they force us to pay for an economic crisis created by bankers, politicians and bosses. A one-day general strike is not enough on its own, of course. But it will be an important staging post for the struggles to come.

    Read CNT Madrid’s statement on the strike: http://www.cnt.es/en/news/cnt-madrid-supports-general-strike-critical-towards-official-unions-calling-it

    1. Investing into renewable energies, for instance. This would put money into the system, instead of taking it out, and make Spain competitive again.

      But the core issue here is not what the gvt. could do, but what the workers must not fail to do: block the road back to neanderthal capitalism.

      1. Putting money into the system does not make the country more competitive. What makes the country competitive is the ability to produce at the same or at a lower cost than you competitors. Now, renewable energies are not going to make anybody more competitive, because they tend to be more expensive and less efficient than the non-renewable counterparts. So, what was your idea again?

        1. “To produce at the same or at a lower cost than you competitors” you’ll need to offer a product in the first place. Innovative products tend to have a good market. So this is not an either-or situation.

          Non-renewable energies are just that: they are limited. Even if they were cheaper, as you claim.

          So, you were just kidding us, taking us for fools, and/or making us lose our time. Again.

          1. At first I thought you were the classic undercover Spanish nationalist who pretends to be a neutral against all kinds of nationalism. Now I see I overestimated you. You’re nothing of the sorts. You’re merely an armchair “expert” who knows nowt about anything. Your nonsense is, after all, no distraction tactic, but a genuine attempt at countering other peoples arguments. Amazing.

            Innovative products do not tend to have a good market. This is a myth that armchair experts such as yourself often repeat like parrots. For every innovative product that’s been successful, I can mention three that have failed totally. Moreover, renewable energies cannot be considered an innovative product by any stretch of the imagination. The term “renewable” only refers to the source, the end product is energy, undistinguishable from the energy produced from non-renewable sources. The fact that there’s a limited stock of them, does not change what I said before about being competitive.

  7. Wow Tom, if you are not careful you will have to give up your job and manage this blog full time!

    Having crossed the capitalist divide in the last 20 years, from union member and CJC activist (anyone knows them anymore?) to fund management leech with MBA to boot, I still find myself agreeing with a lot of what Tom is saying. Not for nothing my colleagues call me Red Rab. But I read’s Keefieboy’s reply and then I also agree with his sentiments. And then read Aby’s and I also agree. What a mess, cannae make up ma mind or what.

    To cut a long story short.
    If I was an employee in Spain, and my job security/relationship with the employer would not be impacted, I would strike and attend the official rally.
    However I would do so in full knowledge that the strike will not achieve anything at all. It would be a waste of time and lost productivity.

    (A bit off tangent here but I think it is despicable the folk that do not go to work saying they are on strike but fail to turn up at the rallies. They should be sacked. Either go to work or attend the rally for Messi’s sake).

    Like some of the others have said, the problem is not this reform of employment law.
    The law is going to have a marginal impact, if anything. New contracts in Spain are already as precarious as they can be elsewhere in Europe. Companies are not going to start hiring more people just because it’s cheaper to sack them: they will create jobs when they have an order book that justifies the additional cost of recruiting and training new staff; the cost of getting rid of staff is secondary, and anyone that says otherwise is not being honest with the truth…And I should know because I speak to company directors from all over Europe every week. Personally, the last thing in my mind when I recruit a new employee is how much is going to cost me to get rid of him. I have never heard of a company going under because redundancy costs are too high, but I have seen plenty of business failing because they were unable to adapt to market demand –increase in volumes or new product lines, etc.

    The problem is that in Spain the whole system (employment law, pay and taxation, public sector delivery, trying to set up a business, tendering for public sector contracts) is set up in such a way as to make things as inefficient and unproductive as possible. In the UK the system is set up in a way that generates ever greater inequality –but in an efficient way. In Spain is both socially divisive and inefficient. Double whammy.

    So to summarise, the whole thing sucks, this financial sector-induced recession being a prime example of it, and neither this law nor the strike will change anything. Spain, like the vast majority of advanced capitalist societies, is just entering the path of greater social inequality, lack of social mobility and high structural unemployment, exactly the same path the UK has been now for over a decade. In the UK, neither the Tories nor the Labour party have done anything to reverse this trend and I am quite certain that the same will happen in Spain.

    We lack the Scandinavians’ Lutheran morality and cohesive socio-cultural framework that underpins their welfare state. Capitalism without self-control and self-discipline can leave a devastating social legacy. In our self-interested, self-serving societies, it is really the survival of the fittest through intra-family generational wealth transfers. I don’t like it and I certainly don’t agree with it, but that’s the way Marx described it and on that point he was right.

    I don’t see any improvement to the situation, and I certainly can’t see any social movement gaining mainstream support for a change of the status quo. A social revolution ain’t going to happen any time soon. Our societies are more depoliticised than ever, and mainstream media is more uniform and compliant with the powers that be than last century. The vast majority of people do not get their political news from the internet, let alone conduct their own analysis –we in this blog are just weirdos, political anoraks unrepresentative of the general population.

    I am sorry to post such a downbeat opinion after a period of absence from this blog but the ‘big picture’ is beyond repair. If we end up with a lost decade a la Japan, we will be lucky: at least they still design and produce lots of stuff and have low-ish unemployment.

    We are really deep in the brown stuff methinks.

    1. Paragraphs 6 and 8/9 are just putting some things very well. I do not agree with “lack of social mobility”, mobility is there, but it’s pointing downwards.

      The problem is larger than the strike, or Spain etc. But still: we have to go to the strike, methinks.

    2. Hello Rab, nice post. I specially agree on your point about Scandinavia; there’s a fine but clear division of “way to do things” in the south of Europe (Mediterranian countries) and the north, and I do believe it’s mostly attached to moral/social issues. Maybe with unification of Europe we’ll get even in that regard, some day 🙂

      You mentioned the costs of sacking staff are marginal and they won’t make companies hire more people, so it won’t bring up employment. This makes me wonder, what’s the purpose of the law, then? If companies can generally afford compensations, what’s the deal? And why is the government subsidizing part of the compensations? Doesn’t that mean using our tax money to pay for our own compensation if we get sacked? Sounds twisted to me.

      And also, why are most entrepreneurs and self-employed supporting the law? If a) it’s not going to lower the SS costs associated with hiring and b) sacking costs are marginal, what benefit could they possibly have? Anyone has some insight on this? Because I’m honestly curious on what’s their line of thinking. I can only speak as employee.

      And from that point of view, to me this law seems only good for employers that want to get rid of staff that was too expensive to fire with the previous compensation models. Now they will be able to use any excuses to get rid of anyone and substitute them for cheaper/temporal employees, bringing salaries down across the board eventually. And that’s all.

      1. Hi Aby: I cannot see Spain becoming like Northern Europe anytime soon. The legacy of the Inquisition, the Carlist Wars, the estraperlo, fascist dictatorships is just too strong. If only the Reformation had taken hold in Spain.. instead we got absolutism and what followed.

        The purpose of the law? To lower employers’ redundancy costs marginally by further eroding employees’ rights.
        I did not say that companies can generally afford compensations. If a company has to lower staff numbers it is already in trouble. Only that redundancy costs are a secondary consideration when hiring new staff. This law will have a marginal benefit only to companies who are in trouble and need to get rid of excess staff. It will lower their costs a little.

        Employers and self-employed support the law because if things go wrong, at least they will not be further crippled with high redundancy costs. For a growing company with a stable medium term outlook of orders (if there is such a thing these days…), this law makes no material difference imho. I am happy to be corrected by someone with more detailed knowledge though.

        I think your last paragraph summarises the situation nicely. Race to the bottom.

        1. This law itself might not have any bigger immediate effects. It’s just another step in an overall effort of bowing to “the market forces”. Keynes is long over, and even the government’s PR campaign against a perceived “anglo-saxon attack” rather goes to prove that.

          States are on the way of making themselves utterly redundant in the mechanics of the (very much only so-called) free-market system, and bit by bit they relinquish their lead on social issues.

          Maybe it all really started back when (Chinese financed) Clinton led China into the WTO, which turned capitalism itself upside down and in effect today makes workers here not only compete in a global market with their low-paid Chinese “collegues”, but, even more perversely, with a whole government-run system that does everything it can to prioritise national interests, while holding the US by its monetary balls.

          What we do, in the so called West, is to bow to those few big enterprises at home who go along well with the Chinese-cum-fifth-column system (the WalMart-effect). There is no national, not even any ideological struggle anymore. On the governmental level there seems to be no opposition of any kind, just pure and simple surrender cloaked in national laws that seem to obey to an emergency situation created by a crisis that is presented as temporary (as if it were a natural desaster) and veiled behind the (false) sensation that everything will turn back to normal once the crisis is over.

          For the old-timers this is our workers losing to communism, for those who take a more post-modern approach it is a struggle of national interests. In any case, we’re fucked for lack of strategical thinking on every level.

          Burning cars and smashing windows is such an endearing, nostalgic and senseless endeavour. It’s like a rigged football game where you go crying foul and beating up the person next to you for want of any scapegoat while the puppetmasters and their minions are sipping champagne.

          So we do have to cry foul, but we also have to get some kind of strategy together, or else we’ll be the ones beaten up by a much larger, better equipped and very obedient mob, with the referee and the police long gone and not even any social security there to pay the hospital fees.

  8. Difficult one for me this as I sort of agree with everyone on here but I think this particular strike is misdirected.
    When I say I agree with everyone as an entrepreneur and ex employer I know how hard it is to lose staff financially and morally but as you can imagine the real estate bust gave a lot of employers little choice!
    I agree with Keefie that I want to be an employer again but the costs associated with employing in Spain are huge thus wages are kept lower than they should be. I would have loved to have paid staff more if SS and other costs were less.
    I agree with Tom that worker’s rights need to be protected. They have few enough as temporary contracts prevail and many employers just take the piss, no paid overtime etc…
    I agree with everyone that has said that Spain is not competitive in so many ways and needs to change.
    I even agree that a revolution of sorts needs to take place if only in the heads of people here.
    This strike though may only achieve the worst possible result, more erosion of the Government’s authority and at least two parliaments or longer of PP savagely beating workers from high up with little or no regard for any rights.
    Action should be taken at a political level against the power of the banks and financial institutions and a strike aimed at those areas, (and not just in Spain but everywhere as it is their irresponsibility that has taken us into this position) so that those in charge politically recognise that we really know where the problem originated and who action should be directed at rather than the working person who through no fault of their own find themselves in an invidious position.
    Spain is strong in renewables, transport infrastructure, agriculture, new technology and geographically it is perfect for start ups. However an international start up would be loathe to come to Spain when the political system is so corrupt (Ranking just above Nigeria on the corruption scale) and the costs associated with employment (Ranking just below Mongolia on the ease of setting up a business scale) are so high.

    1. Hm, I disagree that a direct hit to the government is the worst possible result. This government is already doomed, even without the strike, and will most likely be replaced by the PP on the next elections. I’m not old enough to remember much of Gonzalez’s time as president, but I do remember there was also a crisis and the country was in a sorry state when he was replaced by Aznar. So unless there’s a miracle I think we’re heading to the same situation again.

      I wish this country wasn’t so black and white in choosing the government and smaller parties would have more power, but this “are you with me or against me” attitude seems to be deeply-rooted in Spain.

  9. It’s too easy for big centralised govts of big democracies to make sweeping, unsubtle policy that’s far removed from what people really need. People should protest when something is wrong, but for me all of this just strengthens my feelings that Spain, like many big countries, would work better, and be fairer and more democratic if it was broken up into smaller states.
    Neither me nor Mr Zapatero can honestly relate to 30-40 million people, but perhaps 5 or 6 is doable.
    *Hitler-is-North-Korea-see-where-Marx-gets-you:)*

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