The Charter of Social Rights of the Basque Country: “In order to reinforce the public and essential areas, wealth must be shared out”

Jun 19, 2020
The Charter of Social Rights of the Basque Country (in which many trade unions and social organisations participate), convened several important protests for the 19th of June under the slogan “Care for public and essential areas, sharing out wealth. Life comes first!”

These mass protests took place in both the morning and the afternoon in the four regional capitals (Bilbao, Iruñea, Donostia and Gasteiz), and they were also carried out in the afternoon in many other towns.


The proposed Social Charter’s seven areas of demands are the following:


1- Development of public services. The immediate nationalisation of the care area (care homes for the elderly, day centres, care homes for people with functional diversity, children’s care homes and in home services); of the services for public health; of the outsourced services belonging to the public administrations in Health and Education (cleaning, monitors, dining room staff…); and ambulance services, guaranteeing the subrogation of all the personnel, as well as an exceptional consolidation procedure. The working conditions of these areas must be equated to those of public personnel.


2- Creating 10,000 jobs to guarantee a quality public, universal and free care system that changes the model and guarantees care from birth to the end of life.


3- Steps raised in the ILP against poverty and social exclusion: RGI and RG (Guaranteed income) 100% of the minimum wage. A right to housing.


4- A minimum of 1,080 Euros for retired people.


5- Minimum salary of 1,200 Euros and maximum working week of 35 hours.


6- New taxation: whereas any increase in expenses derived from this proposal and all the public debt that is generated in this context must be the responsibility of those with high incomes, capital income and company profits.


7- Regularisation of all people in an irregular administrative situation and those working on the black economy.


In addition to these measures, this is the message that the people representing the Social Charter launched:


We stayed at home and now we are taking to the streets. This is what is stated in today’s call for our day of protest. During the worst times, when the virus attacked, it was essential to stay in our homes, (at least for those who had the chance to do so), to guarantee all our health. Now it is essential to take to the streets to fight for our rights.


The health crisis has hit all sectors, but particularly the most vulnerable ones, ranging from the dismissals of workers in precarious jobs, attacks against immigrants and violence of all kinds, including violence against women.


The capital has not been dragging its feet during the confinement, and neither has it missed the opportunity to defend the interests of those who have most. Clear examples of this are the efforts made to keep non-essential production sectors open or the recent regressive tax reforms that have been put forward and that the different institutions have carried out. We must remember that today, two workers remain under the landslide in Zaldibar. Policies that go against social majority are being examined in greater depth, increasing the profits for a minority at the expense of the health and living conditions of the social majority. This is the formula that is being considered to overcome this crisis.


However, society has not stopped in the fight against the virus. Workers, students or pensioners have been the ones who have stopped the virus and the ones who really have maintained this society. We are the ones that move the world and we are the ones who, using this route, have the power to transform the world. The care and support networks created in districts and villages are particularly worth mentioning.


The collective self-defence of the most vulnerable sectors has been built in the ’Auzolan’ (team work) amongst us all and we have created mechanisms to defend a decent quality of life. This country once again, is showing its strength and its capacity to give priority, at the worst of times, to the needs of people over those of the capital. This is the formula that we have in order to face up to the crisis: putting the interests of working people and citizens at the centre and now, it is the time when the institutions must cover the needs detected through the public services.


Now we must channel this collective strength to deal with the challenges that we have here and now. More than likely there will be an increase in precarious employment and the neoliberal, racist and hetero-patriarchal reaction is going to intensify. It is time to close ranks and stand up to what is coming with determination and remain on the offensive. The crisis has also brought opportunities with it to change the system from the bottom up. We must use them.


The latest Feminist Strikes and the debating table that was created in the middle of the pandemic to deal with the care crisis; the General Strike of the 30th of January; the protests by pensioners; the many initiatives to defend immigrants and actions for the climate emergency… all these mean that we are not starting from zero. COVID didn’t catch us on the wrong foot. Now, it is more important than ever to bring back, and insist on the message that we have repeated in recent announcements: we must weave networks and alliances between people and movements; it is urgent to build the mobilisations and organisations from the bottom up and it is vital to take to the streets.


We are back, with the impetus and the vocation to changes things and to get to the root of the problems. We don’t want to go back to normality, nor do we want to leap to a supposed new normality. This “new order” is a continuous state of emergency and alarm for the workers and the sectors that have been hit worst; it is a permanent crisis for the people who are suffering from it most. Therefore, it is essential to carry on moving towards a model based on social change and one that puts the dignity and the rights of the people in the front line.


Let the Capital pay for the crisis!