ELA’s strategic option is to put the trade union at the disposal of the people who are worst off

Nov 25, 2021
The re-elected Secretary General underlines ELA’s mission as “a connecting link of people against de-politicisation and disconnection; we must militate against desperation, fight on and dream”.

Mitxel Lakuntza, re-elected a few minutes before as the Secretary General of ELA, reaffirmed the line followed over these years, as well as some guidelines for the organisation over the next few years in his closing speech of the 15th Congress of the Trade Union: “For ELA, the word ‘confrontation’ has no negative connotations; it is a word that is very present in our vocabulary. Confrontation politicises, it makes us aware of what we are and who we have opposite us.”

Accordingly, Lakuntza underscored that “in Euskal Herria, the proliferation of strikes show that it is not a resort used in other times. Strikes are very alive: we must emphasise over and over again that strikes are essential to obtain good agreements, to limit or bring an end to job insecurity.” 

Continuing with this idea, Lakuntza indicated to the over 1,200 people attending (736 people accredited as delegates plus around 500 guests) that “ELA’s strategic option is to put the trade union at the disposal of the people who are worst off; we are reaching many workers, but job insecurity is not a phenomenon that is declining. It only becomes less when we stop it.”

In this respect, he emphasised that to reach this goal we must “continue to build up trade union power in each work centre. What is unionisation? Building power from the bottom up, organising, making people who are in a weak situation stronger. And to do this we have to continue winning elections, getting new members, organising to obtain good agreements. Because as one of our posters states: ‘agreements do not appear from nothing.”

This is exactly where Lakuntza placed the importance of the trade union: “Against the individualism caused by capitalism; against the isolation caused by the new technologies and this virtual world that they want to impose; against the de-politicisation and disconnection amongst people, against all this, the trade union has something to offer: joining together against the isolation; sharing real emotions in the face of this virtual world; militating against the desperation, fighting on and dreaming. This is the reason for the trade union, to turn these dreams into reality. At ELA, we dream with our feet firmly on the ground.”

Mitxel Lakuntza did not only mention the working environment and he defended ELA’s role as a social and political agent: “Our concerns and our fights do not end at the work centres. Defending the working class is unavoidably linked to other public policies, such as feminism or ecology. At times, we are accused: ’ELA is an organisation that is becoming increasingly political and less trade union-orientated.’ Well no, ELA is increasingly trade union-orientated because it has a political practice and opinion.”

In this context, Lakuntza indicated that “a party that says it is left-wing cannot avoid conflictive questions and it must work on alternatives; in short, it must work as the opposition. And if it takes power, it must change things, not leave them as they are. This is something that is difficult to see in our institutions. You only have to look at the budget or taxation. We are not going to give up our Independence; if the left-wing parties do not fulfil their role, ELA is not going to endorse them.”

And on this thorny road, Lakuntza underscored one of the most groundbreaking commitments from ELA’s recently finished 15th Congress: “We have taken a step at this congress. We have said that we want to live in a republic. An independent State that guarantees equality between men and women, a full self-government of this country, a Basque Republic, which conserves the environment and that guarantees the welfare of the majority of society through socialist policies.”