The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Spain, an Encouraging Success for Working People

Mar 31, 2014

This article is from the March 28th issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

Hundreds of thousands of people from all regions in Spain participated in this demonstration that took place in Madrid on Saturday, March 22. Some had come on foot from far away places, walking from town to town over several weeks. Others had travelled by bus or train. There were rows upon rows of demonstrators, many groups led by colorful banners, organized by their work. In the health and education sectors, important struggles have taken place over the last months challenging the authorities, forcing them to back off on some of their attacks. The fire-fighters of Madrid and other regions, identified by their uniforms, served as marshals for the demonstration, to show their support.

The demonstrators gathered initially around the two main railroad stations in Madrid, and then converged on the vast Colon Square, in the center of the capital. Representatives of organizations and groups from all over Spain addressed the crowd. They explained that this “march for dignity” was a step toward the larger struggle of imposing their demands to allow the working classes to live with “dignity” – for all workers to have a job, a roof over their heads, social benefits, which have been put in jeopardy over the last several years of continuing budget cuts.

Those who spoke – coming from different unions, associations or political groups – passionately expressed the anger of the laboring classes. They emphasized their pride in being workers, their pride in their labor; the necessity of the various struggles joining and fighting together. There were some very emotional moments – as in listening to the words of an unemployed worker from Murcia.

Diego Cañamero, leader of the Andalusian Workers Union that initiated this mobilization, ended his speech by calling for the development of struggles, and launched the idea of a general strike across the country, with the hope that workers organized in the majority unions would take advantage of this call to go into action. The key remains the mobilization of the workers in the large private and public companies, where the majority unions are implanted. For years, these unions have entered into negotiations with the government rather than seeking to organize workers’ struggles to push back the bosses who continue to lay off, to cut wages and to attack workers in various ways. What is decisive is the capacity of this section of the working class to use its strength.

This movement follows on the Occupy 15M movement, born on May 15, 2011. But it is different in that it focuses on the interests of workers. Unlike 15M, it does not oppose the expression of political ideas, or the appearance as such of political parties or organizations. The objectives remain vague, however, focusing mostly on the call for the government to resign, or for the refusal to pay the debt and the rejection of the Troika, that is, the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank. But this successful mobilization has the merit of opening new prospects for social protest.