ELA reaches a historical agreement bringing an end to the strike by workers in the Residencias de Bizkaia, the longest in the history of Bizkaia

Nov 02, 2017
The agreement will include the workers’ demands: a 35 hour working week, a salary increase of over 140 euros per month and 100% for sick leave due to an illness or accident at work. Today, the 27th of October, representatives from ELA signed an agreement with the three employers’ associations from the sector (Gesca, Lares and Elbe); an agreement that brings an end to the strike that has been followed by the workers from the Residencias de Bizkaia for over two years. With the signing of the agreement at the Labour Relations Council and after the favourable position of the delegates at the assemblies in recent days, the workers have decided to call off the strike.

Communiqué given by the workers:

In the first place, ELA congratulates the workers from the Residencias de Bizkaia because they have been a model of how to fight a very long, difficult dispute. Our steadfastness and enthusiasm have allowed important obstacles to be overcome, particularly a decree of abusive minimum services with the sole aim of wearing the strikers down and making the dispute invisible.

It has been a women’s strike with which, we humbly and sincerely believe that we are writing a page in the history books of the Trade Union movement. It has been more than a labour dispute; it has also been a social and feminist fight, since we have moved forward towards in the fight to bring dignity to care work. On this point, we would like to thank, wholeheartedly, the many signs of support received during the dispute and particularly, the Babestuz association of family members, with which we will continue working to improve the care quality in the Residencias de Bizkaia.

The agreement includes the main demands made at the start of the dispute such as a 35 hour working week, a minimum wage of 1,200 euros, improvements in the cover for sick leave and updating of bonuses.

Specifically, the agreement includes:

- The validity of the agreement until 2020 and it will mean an improvement of over 20% in the conditions of our salaries and working days.

- The salary increase will be over 140 euros per month. It will start to be applied from September 2017, with a linear monthly increase of 40 euros in 2017 and 2018; a rise of 45 euros a month in 2019 and a linear rise of 55 euros per month in 2020.

- Regarding the working week, a progressive reduction of almost 200 hours is agreed upon in the sectorial agreement. Of the current 1,698 hours of work (of which, 15 are for training), we change to 1,517 (20 hours for training). On the one hand, we have achieved a working week of 35 hours, but all the workers will have their sandwich break acknowledged as effective working time. This reduction in working hours will mean more workers in the centres, therefore improving the care quality for the users.

- Additionally, the recognition of no economic sanction in the case of a work accident or professional illness has been achieved, with workers receiving 100% of their salaries in these cases. The weekend bonus is also increased (from 1.70 to 2.75 euros) along with the bonuses for working night shifts.

We have also maintained all the anti-reform clauses for which we fought in the previous agreement, clauses that caused Cebek not to sign the previous agreement.

On the 1st of May we stated, when we had been on strike for over 250 days, that the system needed us to by submissive and silent and that they were using all the instruments in their hands to make us return to the fold; we were accused of mistreating the users of the residential homes, our colleagues in the fight were sacked, we were treated as second class citizens, subordinates, tractable, without any initiative or decision-making capacities. In short, they treated us with no respect whatsoever. But we were very aware, both then and now, that all of this was for a reason: to make us give in to their blackmail.

But we decided that no, we were not going to accept the role that they wanted us to play; we were not going to give into the blackmail by the Regional Government, nor to the blackmail by their business colleagues. We had broken our silence and submission and we were not going to stop until we managed to bring dignity to our working conditions and also to the living conditions of the users of the residential homes.

And today, after a great deal of suffering, many sleepless nights and dozens of demonstrations and concentrations, we can say, loudly, clearly and with great pride, that we have managed to not give in to the blackmail and we have achieved a great Trade Union and social victory, and made a great step forward in the emancipation of the working classes of this country.