Muñoz: “The Basque Government is supporting cowboy companies when it comes to outsourcing”

Feb 15, 2016
ELA has accused the Basque Government of not wanting to put a stop to the deteriorating working conditions during the session to support the Popular Legislative Initiative (ILP) held in Vitoria-Gasteiz today. The objective of the ILP, unveiled by the trade union in 2014, was for social clauses to be introduced in public procurement processes, such as the workers' right of subrogation. The event held at the Ogeta Basque Pelota Court, attended by 1,800 delegates, was followed by a demonstration that ended in front of the Basque Parliament.

During his speech to the trade union delegates, the ELA Secretary General, Adolfo Muñoz “Txiki”, pointed out that the Government's position coincides with that of Confebask. It is in keeping with the adjustment policy, which prioritises budget cuts over the other aspects, particularly, when considering social issues. “They have, yet again, opted for the job insecurity of the people subcontracted by the Basque authorities, in exchange for lower prices when awarding public contracts, even if that is to the detriment of the living conditions and job stability of over 55,000 people”. According to Muñoz, “it is a sovereign decision to say no to improve the working conditions of thousands of people. It is not imposed by Madrid. The Parliament can say yes, there is nobody stopping it, and it says no".

In this regard, he criticised the position of the PSE-EE (Basque Socialist Party), who had submitted amendments that had brought about the ILP, but "when the moment of truth arrived, the only subrogation that they were worried about was that of their own posts”.

Muñoz stressed that the Basque Government’s opposition to the ILP shows its real employment policy. “By voting against the ILP, the Government has positioned itself on the side of the most reactionary employers; the one that argues that our people must accept any type of job, regardless of how miserly the conditions offered. Consequently, companies impose 12-hour working days for the workers in exchange for 5 euros a hour in the public works tendered by the Basque Government itself. The Basque Government is guilty of dumping as it puts a premium on the cheapest bids”.

The ELA Secretary General believes that the rejection of the ILP is great news for the cowboy companies that seek to continue to enslave the subcontractors' workers. “The text approved by the PNV [Basque Nationalist Party] and the PSE this week boycotts the main issues of this ILP, such as subrogation and the application of the benchmark collective bargaining agreement. There is no progress, there is nothing positive, either regarding job stability or regarding the labour conditions”.

Muñoz explained that the ILP clauses would be circulated to be discussed by all the public institutions. “Life does not end in Parliament. Your commitment to the ILP gives us strength to continue to strive in our struggle to improve the job conditions at the subcontractors”.

Along with the Secretary General, the Collective Bargaining Officer, Joseba Villarreal, and the ELA-Zerbitzuak Federation representative, Maricruz Elkoro, also spoke.

Villarreal stressed that the processing of the ELA ILP, which had gathered 110,000 signatures, had been an obstacle race. “In fact, the Basque Government tried to prevent it from proceeding no sooner than it the initiative had been submitted to the Parliament. Subsequently, Bizkaia Provincial Council tried to block the debate by arguing there was a conflict of competences. An arbitration panel, under the supervision of a court, forced it to proceed. Later, and at committee stage, ELA noted the lack of respect and prejudices of certain MPs towards the trade union, along with the worrying ignorance about the trade union and social reality, which could be seen by the lack of political will to approve this ILP and the huge distance between many politicians and the society that they say that they represent”.

In turn, Elkoro called for a guarantee that at least the benchmark provincial sectoral agreements would be fulfilled. “We are now having problems with all the tendering processes that the Administration are conducting. The consequence of that action: dismissals and deterioration of working conditions, leading to some cases of real slavery, such as the works tendered by Education: workers who are paid 5 euros an hour working 10 hours a day,” she stressed.