Thousands of people took to the streets to demand PNV, Bildu and Podemos to prevent Sánchez from cutting back pensions

Oct 24, 2021
In Bilbao, Donostia, Irun and Gasteiz, ELA is demanding the repeal of the labour reform and for the Basque parties to use their votes in Madrid to defend social rights.


The 24th of October thousands of people have taken to the streets in Bilbao, Donostia, Irun and Gasteiz under the slogans ‘No to the cutbacks in pensions; repeal the labour reform’, with the aim of conditioning the reforms that at present are being negotiated by Pedro Sánchez’s Government and which were demanded by the EU in exchange for the so-called European funds.

The demonstrations called by ELA also contain a very direct message (‘Do not sell us out in Madrid’), aimed at the Basque parties with representation in the Congress (PNV, Bildu and Podemos), as their votes are decisive for the Spanish Government to be able to pass these reforms. Accordingly, ELA underscores that “these reforms can be conditioned from Euskal Herria, and the Basque parties have the responsibility to defend the labour rights and the pensions of hundreds of thousands of people in our country.”

In his speech in Bilbao, the General Secretary of ELA, Mitxel Lakuntza, underscored: “A great deal is at stake over the next few weeks. We have been bearing the harsh consequences of the last pension and work reforms for a decade. Now, we are also up against the European funds, which are not a gift, but rather a threat. In the previous crisis the public money went to the banking system; now they want it to go to the large companies, and in return the government will not repeal the labour reform and worsen the pensions. This is Sánchez’s deal with the EU.”


We have many reasons to be concerned”, Lakuntza emphasised. “The minister Escrivá has already indicated this: there are two options: retire later or have a smaller pension. This is his only proposal. They want to do this by incorporating a new mechanism that they have called MEI (Intergenerational Equity Mechanism, MEI in its Spanish acronym) in order for future governments to be able to do what they want with the pensions.”

We also insist”, added Lakuntza, “on the importance of repealing the labour reform, for two particular reasons: To guarantee that the labour agreements applied in Euskal Herria are the ones that are signed here, following a democratic principle and to ensure that devastatingly bad State agreements are not imposed on us. The other reason involves collective redundancies. The Employment Regulation Files (ERE in its Spanish acronym). What are we asking for? To ensure that this does not give a free rein to companies with profits to dismiss workers with impunity.”

Mitxel Lakuntza also launched a message to the political parties: “You can’t win against the far right using cutback policies, or forgetting people’s concerns. The far right have to be hit where it hurts, with left-wing political programmes; with more equality, with more social rights, with tax policies that make those who have most pay most, with feminism, with housing policies… with everything that they do not represent.”

Unfortunately,” Lakuntza recalled, “these decisions are still made in Madrid, but they can be conditioned from Euskal Herria. Sánchez’s Government does not have a majority. It needs the votes of the Basque parties. This is the reason we are in the streets today, to demand that PNV, EH Bildu and Elkarrekin Podemos to use their votes to show their commitment to not pass any cutback in pensions and to defend the complete repeal of the labour reform. This is why we say: Do not sell us out in Madrid!”

Accordingly, Lakuntza launched a clear message for the next weeks: “We are going to continue to mobilise people; ELA is going to use everything in its hands; therefore, the trade union must be ready for a general strike. When working conditions and social rights are at risk, standing by and watching in silence are not options for a trade union. ELA is going to do what it has always done: put the interests of the working class ahead of everything else.”