Spain

On October 29, high school students and teachers, called by the teachers' unions CCOO and UGT and the Students Union and with the support of the parents' associations, went out on the streets. This was the largest mobilisation in the education sector since 1986-87 and had been called to protest against the new education reform imposed by the right wing PP government, the misnamed "Quality Law". The strike was followed by 90% of students and by 60% of the teachers, despite a campaign against on the part of the conservative teachers' unions, and there were also strikes in some universities.

On Saturday October 5, more than 500,000 people demonstrated against the government's proposed bill to reduce the rights of the unemployed (known as the "decretazo"). This demonstration was the continuation of the struggle that began with the June 20 general strike against the attacks on labour and trade union rights in Spain.

Stop attacks against democratic rights

The outlawing of Batasuna has meant a qualitative step in the curtailing of democratic rights and fundamental freedoms. As was shown in the streets of Bilbao on Saturday, September 15, the freedom of expression, demonstration, organisation and the right to strike, which are conquests of the working class and the youth, are under serious attack.

On Monday, August 26 an extraordinary session of the Spanish Parliament was called with the aim of promoting the outlawing of Batasuna. This decision was taken with 295 votes in favour from the Popular Party, the Socialist Party [PSOE], Coalición Canaria and Partido Andalucista. There were 10 votes against from the Basque Nationalist Party [PNV], Catalan Republican Left [ERC], Eusko Alkartasuna [EA] and Iniciativa per Catalunya and 29 abstentions from United Left [IU], Galician Nationalist Block [BNG], the [Catalan bourgeois nationalist] CiU and Chunta Aragonesista.

The general strike in Spain has been a resounding success and is an enormous source of inspiration for socialists all over the world. As Alan Woods predicted yesterday, the Spanish media today recorded the surprise of the trade union leaders at the massive following of the strikes and the unanimous opinion of the media owners and the government that the strike had been a failure. Another thing obscured the media coverage of the strike and gave an additional excuse to the mass media to hide the truth: ETA planted two bombs in Andalusia, one in Marbella and one in Fuengirola. This shows once again the reactionary character of individual terrorism. Marxists stand for the revolutionary

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After six years of the right-wing PP government of Aznar, the workers of Spain have said "Enough is enough!" Today, June 20, 2002, Spain was paralysed by a one-day general strike.

Shouting "Aznar cabrón, trabaja de peon!" ("Aznar bastard, work as labourer!), "el pueblo unido jamás será vencido!", ("the people united will never be defeated!") and "reforma agraria, ahora" ("land reform, now!")… Thousands of workers, men and women and young labourers showed with their voices the enormous strength of the working class when it moves. When the demonstration passed in front of the hotel where the European leaders are going to stay, the two-metre high fence was not enough to stop the people shouting "they hide behind the fence, the people do not hide!"

The CCOO and UGT trade unions have called a 24-hour, nationwide general strike for June 20. The aim is to protest against the counter-reforms to be introduced by the PP government, which will make it easier for bosses to fire workers and restrict unemployment benefits by forcing those who have been out of work for more than one year to accept any job, whether full time or part time, whether the pay is more or less than unemployment benefit, and whether it is located more or less than 30 km from their place of residence, etc. Furthermore, they also want to do away with the "PER", which is a special system of unemployment benefit used by day labourers in the regions of Andalucia and

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On February 4 the Spanish government announced the contents of the new so-called Quality Law for Education. A new law that the Spanish Students' Union has been denouncing since last year. The government has been trying to convince the population that they want to improve the education system. But after the campaign of privatisation in hospitals, industry and other areas they are not going to fool anyone. According to the right-wing Popular Party government this law will solve the problem of high drop-out and failure rates among students. These excuses hide the real reactionary measures of the Popular Party.

The general strike of high schools and technical colleges on March 7 against the "Quality Law" and the VT Law has been a success. More than 2 million students stopped classes; the support of the strike was 90% and thousands of students have taken part in more than 40 demonstrations and rallies in Vigo, Orense, Coruña, Santiago, Gijón, Oviedo, Vitoria, San Sebastián, Bilbao, Zaragoza, Valencia, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona (where we denonuce the brutal repression of the Catalan autonomous police and we demand the immediate resignation of those responsible), Tarragona, Girona, Lleida, Madrid, Valladolid, Albacete, Guadalajara, Ávila, Sevilla, Granada, Málaga, Jaén, Huelva, Badajoz,

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On Sunday 23 February, more that 1200 coaches and countless private cars took tens of thousands of Galicians, especially youth, to Madrid to the demonstration called by the Plataforma Nunca Máis. For a period of four hours all the avenues of the centre of Madrid witnessed a human flood of protesters, demanding the resignation of ministers and measures to alleviate the catastrophe of the oil tanker Prestige.

Thousands of students participated yesterday (April 20th) in Spain in a national day of action against the bombing of Yugoslavia. The protest was called by the Students Union (Sindicato de Estudiantes). Thousands of students participated in meetings in the schools to discuss a resolution drafted by the Students Union opposing NATO's intervention against Yugoslavia and proposing a Socialist Federation of the Balkans with full democratic rights for all nationalities as the only way forward for the people of the Balkans.

On Tuesday, November 7, more than 3 million school and university students went out on strike in Spain. The strike also had a 90% following amongst university teachers and non-teaching staff at universities. More than 200,000 students, teachers and university workers participated in demonstrations all over the country with 50.000 in Madrid, 20.000 in Seville, 15.000 in Santiago, 10.000 in Barcelona, 15.000 in Valladolid, 5.000 in Oviedo, 5.000 in the Canary Islands, … with a total of more than 70 demonstrations all over the country.

Millions of Spanish students against the education reforms of the Popular Party 

The PP government is facing a mass students' movement which has the support of the majority of the population. The clearest indication of the importance of this struggle were the editorials of the two main bourgeois papers in Spain on November 15. Both El Pais and El Mundo were warning the government of the danger of the situation and asking them to negotiate. However, President Aznar and the leaders of the PP so far have taken the route of prepotence and repression.

Since 1994 and throughout the whole period of the right wing PP government in Spain, the leaders of the two main trade union confederations in Spain, CCOO and UGT, have carried out a policy of agreements and social partnership. In 1996 they agreed to a change in the pension system. The old system was based on taking the average wage for the last eight years worked. With the new system the calculations to work out a worker's pension are based on the last fifteen years [the further back you go the lower the wages and thus the level of pensions goes down]. In 1997 they agreed to a new kind of labour contract which reduced the amount paid in redundancy payment. These policies of the trade

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The high turn out rate of 70.7% in the election in Euskadi (Basque name for the Basque country), 11 points higher than the last regional elections of 1994, and only 0.8% less than the general election of 1996, reflects the enormous interest of the Basque population in finding a solution to their problems, starting with an end to the long nightmare of repression and terrorism with the change in the political situation since the ETA ceasefire.