Demonstrating opens the way for the fight against inequality and poverty

May 11, 2018
Thousands and thousands of people – around 14,000, took to the streets on the First of May this year, in marches organised by ELA to vindicate the claim that no one is surplus to requirements. This year the event took place in two venues: in Bilbao and Iruñea and once again, many people decided to demonstrate in favour of the rights of the working class.

Prior to the main events, ELA wanted to send a double message of solidarity, for the woman murdered this weekend in Donibane Garazi due to male violence and for the woman who was raped during the 2016 San Fermines festival. As was underscored in the statement on the subject, the woman was raped twice: the first time at San Fermines and the second time with the sentence passed last week.

The event in Bilbao started at 11.45, at the Sagrado Corazón. The general secretary, Adolfo Muñoz took part in this march, emphasising that for ELA this First of May is not the same as that of other years. “There are things that do not change, but others that do, and the latter, the ones that change, bring hope to those of us who are fighting for a fairer society. We are talking about social and trade union mobilization: on the 8th of March, the demonstrations by pensioners and the labour struggles that we are leading. ELA is in all these fights”.

"The trade union fights over the past year have two important characteristics. The first one is that we are winning the offensive strikes we are carrying out. And secondly, employers, both public and private, only give in against trade union strength. Many conflicts: in sectors, Residencias de Bizkaia, Carreteras de Gipuzkoa, home help in Bizkaia, social intervention in Araba, sports venues and fields in Araba, sport management in Nafarroa, public and subsidised education in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country… And in companies: Fine Arts Museum of Bilbao, Eulen Euskalduna Palace, Symphonic Orchestra of Euskadi, tolosaldea Bus, Alfa Precisión, Erandio sports centre, OTA Bilbao, Fundiciones UR Artea (immigrant discrimination), H&M Bizkaia, Productos Tubulares…”

ELA congratulates those who fight and emphasises the presence of women in these struggles. We want to underscore the conflict of the old people's homes of Bizkaia because it brings together many elements that help to understand what ELA is. From many places in the State (also from Europe) we are being asked to come and tell how our colleagues have achieved their purpose. It was a model trade union and feminist fight because it dealt with bringing dignity to the care sector. We must give great value to what they did. These women are a reference and ELA is also a reference for the work we are doing in the feminised sectors. This type of struggle does not exist in other places”.

However, Muñoz has also acknowledged that there are things that have not changed. “They don’t want to change the policies that increase poverty, exclusion and inequality. PNV and PP give priority to giving stability – that fetish word- to neoliberal policies because they share them. PP, PNV and PSE-EE share the neoliberal policies. If there is a branch of Cs, then it also shares these policies. It doesn’t matter whether the State is fully involved in all the orders. They give priority to what they call “stability”, to supporting each other, applying the policies of cut backs in their areas of responsibility. Therefore, the PP gives stability to the PNV and the PNV to the PP. They give stability because they share the policies that they apply”.

This year the war against poverty has been the main topic chosen by the trade union. In the end, more and more people are at risk of falling over the poverty threshold. The general secretary of ELA wanted to mention the Popular Legislative Initiative that is going to develop the Social Rights Charter of Euskal Herria and he repeated the trade union’s complete support for this. “It is very difficult to uphold decent social services; our people are forced to accept starvation contracts. All the neoliberals know this, both those in our country and those outside it”. After the event, a demonstration was held that passed along the Gran Via and ended in the Plaza Circular.

In Pamplona the act began at 12 am. First, a demonstration was held, running from the Plaza de la Cruz to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, where the trade union, social and political situation of Navarra was analysed. Mitxel Lakuntza, head of ELA in Navarra, also wanted to emphasise that this year has seen good news as a result of the trade union fight and mobilization.

The strike of the 8th of March, the marches by pensioners, the labour struggles… People who have suffered most from the crisis are realising that the story of growth is a hoax. Social and trade union mobilization is great news that we must celebrate. We are proud to say vindicative trade unionism is alive and kicking. There will be no changes without mobilisation”.

Celebration and protests. The First of May is a day for protests, but it also a festive day. A day to claim the pride of belonging to the working class. Therefore, after the events held at midday, popular meals were organised in Bilbao’s Arenal and on the Labrit de Iruñea fronton courts. And the party will continue on into the evening. Gora langileon borroka!