Mitxel Lakuntza, General Secretary of ELA: “We want to defend the purchasing power of salaries and pensions and to demand some decent social benefits”

Nov 19, 2022
On the 19th of November, in the four capital cities of southern Basque Country, over 15,000 people seconded the mobilisations organised in defence of work, pensions and public services. Amongst the convening organisations were ELA, the Euskal Herria Pensioners’ Movement, the Charter of Social Rights of the Basque Country and almost another 50 trade unions and y social agents. “This mobilisation is not the end; rather it is the start of a journey, with the commitment of tightening collaboration in the defence of these urgent demands.”

The General Secretary of ELA, Mitxel Lakuntza, took part in the large demonstration in Bilbao and he indicated that ELA defends “the purchasing power of salaries and pensions” and that from the trade union they are demanding “some decent social benefits.” “Our demands are steps towards improving people’s quality of life,” he added.

ELA denounced the process of impoverishment of the working class and demands a fair division of wealth and an in-depth change of social policies. In fact, as the business profits are increasing, the workers, the pensioners and the people who receive social benefits are becoming increasingly poor.

The institutions of the Basque Country, however, refuse to face up to the current energy crisis. “We must put restrictions on the energy oligopoly and establish a public control of prices.” In the words of Lakuntza, “we are asking the Governments of Euskadi and Navarra to distance themselves from the economic powers and put themselves on the people’s side.”

And we believe that to do this, some in-depth tax reforms are needed. To be able to face up to the country’s social needs, strengthening the public services and carrying out the eco-social transition, taxes on business profits, high incomes and wealth must be increased. But the budgets that have been presented by the Basque Government and the Government of Navarra seem insufficient and indefensible.

The trade unions and social agents that organised the mobilisations issued the following common communiqué:

Under the main banner with the slogan ‘Decent jobs, pensions and public services. With impoverishment, a division of wealth’, over 15,000 people came together in the morning in Vitoria and in the afternoon in Bilbao, San Sebastian and Pamplona. “We urge the Governments of the ACBC and Navarra to stand up to their responsibility and do everything necessary to guarantee some decent public services, pensions and salaries in order that everyone, be they men or women, immigrants and/or racialised people, young or old, can live with quality of life. It is the time to radically change the system’s course and, therefore, the public policies that are being applied at present,” they state in the document read out at the end of the demonstration.

Diversity was the predominant note in the mobilisation, the claims made by pensioners from the different regions, the ecological block, flags and insignias from the many organisations present, as well as banners about labour conflicts and an endless amount of proclamations were present at the mobilisations. Those attending recalled the negotiated demands: A minimum wage of 1,400 €, with the aim that the minimum pensions of 1,080 € reach 90% of the aforementioned wage; ending the gender gap in wages and pensions, developing a universal public network of healthcare and social services and the stopping of the cutbacks that are taking place in the ACBC in the Income Guarantee and in the Guaranteed Income in Navarra.

The organisers confirmed that this mobilisation is not the end, but rather it is the start of a journey, with the commitment of tightening the collaboration in the defence of these urgent demands.


Precisely, on December 16 and December 21, new mobilizations will be held in front of the Basque Parliament in Vitoria and the Parliament of Navarre in Pamplona to demand social budgets.