International Union Activity Secretary for CC.OO.’s
affiliate FECOHT (the Commerce, Hotel and Tourism State
Federation) Sirel spoke with him regarding the recent march
in Madrid, organized jointly with other federations of labor
unions and different social movements.
responsible for organizing the march?
-The demonstration in Madrid on Saturday 15th was
convoked by “Cumbre Social” (Social Summit), a coordinating
body that includes union organizations and hundreds of other
entities from civil society.
The summit is a broad mix of groups that represent all of
-Was there a positive
-The attendance was massive. Hundreds of thousands of
demonstrators marched into Columbus Square from diverse
areas in Madrid where the formal meeting was established,
including several speeches by numerous speakers.
-Which were the causes that
led to this march?
-Like many other demonstrations occurred recently, this
march expressed the people’s opposition and protest in
relation to the cabinet policy established by the government
of the Popular Party (PP).
To put in the words of the CC.OO’s Secretary,
Ignacio Fernández Toxo, there is a rebellion in place by
elite groups who want to force a change which implies
ruining the state of welfare with an economic adjustment
process that violates the rights of workers and all citizens
Such has been our latest attempt, but there are more to
come because new actions are being organized already.
it is true, as Rajoy has said, that reality
continuously forcing him to do things he does
not want to do, then he should either resign or
allow the referendum that is claimed for .
are the main cutbacks decided by the government?
-Surely the working class of Latin America is already
familiar with this kind of policies that bring along harsh
structural and tax reforms to abide by the conditions set
forth in the European continent.
These cutbacks on rights represent a significant increase
in unemployment figures – apart from the jobs naturally lost
as a result of the economic crisis in itself – which are
currently above 24 percent.
A crude deregulation of labor relations is promoted, with
budget cuts in education and health, all of which leads to
an overall demotion of sectors that are key to the state of
-A referendum is claimed to oppose this PP policy, right?
-The fact is that the Popular Party accessed the government
with a program submitted during the campaign that has
nothing to do with what has been done in this term of
office. Of course, Mariano Rajoy justifies this as a
result of being forced to it by reality.
But that argument has no political sustainability. If
reality forces him to constantly do things he is reluctant
to do, then he should either resign or allow the referendum
that is claimed for subjecting this policy to the decision
of citizens. There are not many chances of this happening,
but we will continue to demand it anyway.
-And what are
unions proposing specifically?
-It has been clearly established, even in the speeches of
last Saturday, that the decision of a new general strike
lies in the hands of the government authorities, because if
the government doesn’t make things right, we are headed
towards a strike. It would be the third general strike in a
period of two years.
-There are also plans
for joint actions by unions from across Europe…
-Even when the situation in Northern Europe is
not comparable to that of Mediterranean countries or
even France, the idea is spreading in the
European Unions Confederation (CES) as to the
fact that this is not problem of Greek,
Spanish and Italian workers only; it might
end up affecting the state of welfare through all of
There is a rebellion in place by elite groups
who want to force a change which implies ruining
the state of welfare with an economic adjustment
process that violates the rights of workers and
all citizens in general.
So, it is possible that during the
upcoming CES meeting in Madrid, on September 25th, actions
will be undertaken towards a new demonstration at the
continental scale, with different expressions depending on
each country and situation, but backed by a shared
vindication like safeguarding the state of welfare for
opinion, what purposes has Saturday’s march served?
-It had an important impact on the increasing conviction
that only from an active position will it be possible to
not only put a halt to this anti-democratic loss of
direction by the government but also to recover the rights
lost in the cutbacks.
From the union perspective, the march was very significant,
because the pursuit against the rights of workers and all
citizens that is taking place in Spain and in other
countries is enhanced by all kinds of actions aimed at
undermining the capability of unions to defend themselves.
The march has also proved that the different trends
present in the workers’ unions are closely united and we can
face up to the government policy together.
referendum have any binding effects? Would it imply a legal
obligation for the authorities?
-The government would not be legally bound. But there is no
doubt regarding the political effects of a massive
participation in a process of this type. At present, the
PP party enjoys an absolute majority in Parliament,
but they have lost all possible social legitimacy quite some
time ago, not only as respects the voters of other parties
but also in relation to their own supporters.
-Lastly, what message would you send to the IUF and
workers in Latin America?
-To stay confident that Spain’s workers unions, and
particularly the CC.OO on behalf of which I speak,
will not yield an inch in our battle to defend the rights
they intend to take away from us, regardless of how
difficult the circumstances may become.