Spain: The government fears the organised people on the streets

In the State of the Nation debate, Spanish president Rajoy announced that 2014 will be "the year of recovery." Before this bombastic statement, the government had frozen the meagre minimum wage (€ 645.3 per month), raised the price of transportation by 1.9% and consolidated the huge rise in electricity prices of recent years.

Editorial Lucha de Clases (Class Struggle) #16

The economy is improving, for whom?

While 85% of income tax comes from waged workers, and the Economic and Social Council estimated that the majority of tax fraud (72%) corresponds to large companies and estates, the President announced new tax cuts to employers.

We must put the announced "growth" in context: we have a 26% unemployment rate, while wages for workers have gone down 10% in the past two years. In two years, public debt climbed from 69% of GDP to 94%, largely thanks to billions of euros made available for the banking bail out, while the government persecuted the judges who attempted to investigate this scandal. Having failed to achieve the budget deficit target in 2013 (6.7% of GDP, compared to 6.5% forecast), the attempt to reach the deficit target proposed by the European Commission for the end of the year (5.5 % of GDP) will weigh down on economic growth, implying further cuts.

In the context of European stagnation, and with the slowdown in the so-called emerging countries (which in recent years had pushed global growth), the "recovery" of the Spanish economy will be a temporary phenomenon which will be almost imperceptible in everyday life for working families. We are not going to have a V-shaped recovery, but rather an L-shaped stagnation and the continuation of the bitter pain imposed by the capitalist crisis.

The latest CIS poll shows a deep malaise in the overwhelming majority of society after six years of economic devastation: 42% believe that next year the economic situation will be like this year and 28.6% think it will be worse, with 86.9% who say that the current situation is bad or very bad.

From impotence to action: either you fight or they crush you

Late last year, the capitalist weekly The Economist placed Spain among the European countries with a "high risk" of social unrest in 2014.

The victory of the Gamonal struggle, a high point of all labour mobilizations that have developed since last Autumn, despite the total lack of action on the part of the leaders of the UGT and CCOO trade unions, portrays a government that is aware that it cannot arbitrarily impose all their measures. The defeat of hospital privatization in Madrid, which was finally settled in court, showed the weariness of the vast majority of society from two decades in which Madrid has been a test case for privatisation in all fields.

It is in this context that the government, despite having an overall majority in Parliament, has decided to postpone the proposed reactionary attack on abortion rights. The resignation of one of the ruling party's MPs, who has suddenly discovered she is in favour of the Republic, reflects the enormous pressure from society and the internal divisions within the government.

Faced with further falls in popular support, the ruling PP is trying to play the card of xenophobia. However the recent killing by the Civil Guard of 15 sub-Saharan immigrants trying to cross over to Spain will provoke even more anger and indignation on the part of the most conscious workers.

Many of the leaders of the left never cease to remind us how the labour movement is greatly affected by the "shock doctrine". But we cannot overemphasize that there are growing indications of a change in the situation, which started in the Autumn with the all out teachers' strike in the Balearic islands, leading to a growing sector of the working class fighting back against provocative attacks by the bosses. This is reflected in the continued wave of indefinite strikes that is occurring throughout the country. This is happening not only in companies affected by closures, like Coca Cola, but also in opposition to wage cuts, as shown now in the all out strike at the ALSA bus company.

The "Marches of Dignity", arriving in Madrid on 22 March, express very well a growing defiant mood among the working class. With over a thousand public meetings already held throughout the country, the setting up of the "Platforms for the March of Dignity" in hundreds of cities and towns is organising the common work of many movements and left wing organisations.

Create Platforms of Peoples' Organization

March 22, and the protests that are going to take place immediately after, will be the opening salvo by workers and the dispossessed that should give way to a higher degree of organization. Lucha de Clases believes there is an idea that is catching on in different places: the need for these Platforms to be consolidated as PLATFORMS OF PEOPLE'S ORGANIZATION ie, as true United Front bodies, of left wing political organizations, together with the existing social movements and trade unions. Its role should be to organise support and solidarity for the struggles that are taking place in each region, and nationally, to organize and coordinate social protests against the cuts, to support those arrested and repressed in the demonstrations, to raise money for fines, etc.. Ultimately, the entire protest movement must set itself a central aim: to contribute to put an end to the People's Party government of the rich as soon as possible.