The struggle for a decent collective agreement in the auxiliary metallurgy industry in the bays of Cadiz and Algeciras has become a historic strike, adding to a long series of conflicts.
The indefinite strike in the metallurgy sector in Cadiz broke out in the face of the blocking of collective bargaining. The bosses want to impose severe cuts in wages and rights: they demand the abolition of two additional months of wages, the increase of the working day, the refusal to grant bonuses for toxic and dangerous risks, and they want also create a new category of personnel lower than the category of skilled worker.
This strike concerns 25,000 workers in 700 companies, they have been on indefinite strike since November 16. With an increase in the cost of goods and services of 5.5% in October, and an average of 2.5% for 2021, rising wages are essential, not to ensure that the purchasing power of workers s ‘improves, but so that it remains in the current state.
Large companies use small subcontracting workshops employing very precarious auxiliary workers to cut jobs as metallurgists in large companies in the sector. The differences in conditions between the two types of workers are abysmal, and this was allowed by the government with the complicity of the UGT (General Union of Workers of Socialist Tendency) and the CC OO (Workers’ Commissions close to the Communist Party).
The unions and the left-wing government, PSOE (Socialist Party), IU (United Left) and Podemos have their mouths full of speeches about repealing labor reform, a repeal that never comes. Electricity and food are increasing, while subcontracts are awarded to the cheapest companies to lower the wage burden.
Workers called for a two-day strike in November, which was a huge success. But the bosses did not give in and, after several assemblies and despite the obstacles raised by the official unions CCOO and UGT, an indefinite strike was called. Its impact, especially in the bay of Cadiz, was absolute, with strong mobilizations and clashes with the police.
The workers want to prevent the continuation of the process of deindustrialization and deterioration of working conditions which has been going on for years. The two Airbus factories (one of which is threatened with imminent closure and is fighting fiercely), the three Navantia factories (public shipyards) and the Dragados factory are practically all that remains of the industry in the region.
In a clear commitment to tourism, the various central and regional governments have allowed the dismantling of the entire industrial fabric. For years, the province of Cadiz has experienced the highest unemployment rates in Spain.
Subcontracting is brutal and constitutes a constancy for the workers of the shipyards: a weapon of mass destruction of the rights of the workers. The division of thousands of workers in hundreds of companies, the permanent disregard of the main company committees and the lack of power of the union representatives of the subcontractors, led the workers, mostly temporary subcontractors, to to raise your voice and start to organize.
The negotiating table of the agreement is controlled by the collaborationist unions CCOO and the UGT, but the participation of the anarcho-unionist (CGT and CNT) and alternative unions of Cadiz is very important. They base their struggle on the mobilization of workers and decision-making in the assemblies, because they do not trust the possible maneuvers of the official centers, which have a long history of concessions in favor of the bosses. The heart of the strike is in the Bay of Cadiz. In order to prevent the strike from spreading to the whole province, the regional government of Andalusia called on the two parties to mediate. But in the streets there is a strong will to fight.
This is not an exception, but the general trend across Spain. The bosses want to take advantage of the effects of the pandemic to activate industrial relocation plans, impose business closures and huge setbacks in working conditions. To do this, he enjoys total impunity for dismissals allowed by successive labor reforms, in particular that of the People’s Party government in 2012, which the PSOE-IU / Podemos government has still not repealed.
Coinciding with the strike in Cadiz on Wednesday, another general strike against industrial dismantling completely paralyzed the Galician region of Amariña in the Lugo region, it filled the streets of Burela. It is the same fight that the workers of the subcontractors are fighting in the face of the closure of Nissan. That is why the indefinite strike of the metalworkers of Cadiz is the strike of the whole working class.
A wave of solidarity with the Andalusian metalworkers’ strike is taking place in several regions.
Seville, Malaga, Huelga and Granada have organized demonstrations in support of the metallurgists of Cadiz, in addition to the demonstrations organized in Cadiz and Algeciras. A demonstration has been called for November 26 in Madrid and another will take place on Sunday November 28 in Barcelona. And a delegation of workers from Tubacex (Basque Country. 236 days of indefinite strike this year) went to Cadiz to support them.
The end of social peace caused by the strike caused unease among some of the public during roadblocks or during altercations provoked by the picket lines.
Police reinforcements have been sent to the area by the government. There has been talk in some media of violence, numerous arrests have taken place and the police charges have been extremely violent.
But the real violence exists when a worker is not covered by a mutual health insurance and has to go to the hospital saying that the accident happened at his home to receive reimbursement for treatment. Violence is the fact that a metallurgist cannot take a vacation without fear of being made redundant. Violence, for workers, means decades and decades of precariousness, of contracts linked one after the other without any guarantee of employment.
Today we are witnessing the demonstration of manifest fed-up. Several thousand people took to the streets on November 23. The Andalusians are today in struggle, the young people are very mobilized, the students of Cadiz are on strike in solidarity, they support the workers of the metallurgy, they refuse the powerlessness, they refuse to work more to bring back less money at home. This strike signifies weariness, the weariness of feeling a slave. It is a fight to stop industrial dismantling and no longer lose rights at work, to put an end to subcontracting and divisions between workers, to force the left government, “the most progressive in the history of ‘Spain’ according to its president Pedro Sánchez, to repeal from now on the labor reform of 2012.