Defend pensions - General strike now to bring down the government!

Unfortunately, the last period of the class struggle in Spain has been marked by an absence of big united, generalized, mobilisations. As we have previously explained, the chief responsibility for this lies with the leaders of the state’s biggest trade unions. The main and most criminal consequence of their policy is that after six months during which the PP government has lost all credibility in popular consciousness with the ’Barcenas case’ of corruption, the government incredibly seems to be holding on to power without great difficulty. We have also previously explained how a serious campaign of mobilisations six months ago could have brought it down relatively easily.

The dead weight which these union leaderships represent for the workers’ movement is increasingly clear. They have had many opportunities to advance in the struggle but their defeatist industrial perspective and lack of a political perspective prevents them from acting. This has led to the development of mood that no big struggles are happening, but this does not match reality. There is a great contradiction between the attitudes of these leaders and the attitude shown by increasing sectors of the working class, who increasingly have to fight their own union leaders as well as austerity and the government.

Despite the lack of big state-wide mobilisations, so far in 2013 (with the exception of the education strike on 9 May), the working class, as always, has struggled to find a path to express its anger and radicalisation. Workers have turned to the local, sectorial, and regional arenas with magnificent militancy, often improvising ways to overcome the passivity of union structures (such as mass workers’ assemblies and the creation of new broad fronts). Many of these struggles show a level of determination not seen previously in this crisis, which shows that the illusion that the level of struggle is "on the way down" is ultimately false. The best expression of this is the indefinite regional education workers’ strike in the Baleares region (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Fomentera) which stayed solid for over three weeks. This saw the biggest mobilisations in the history of the region. This marvellous struggle could be a springboard for the class struggle throughout the state.

Education sector - hotspot of the class struggle

The education sector, in particular, is one of the hotspots of the class struggle over the next months, with the all-Spain strike taking place at the end of October - which could also have a big impact on the wider class struggle.

But this is not an isolated example. There are many open conflicts in both the private and public sectors, and the weapon of the indefinite strike is now being more widely used than ever. These individual examples are an anticipation of the scale and intensity of the explosions of struggle which will arrive throughout the state.

However, the struggle which must represent a turning point in the next months is that in defence of pensions. The new attack on pensions by the right wing Popular Party (PP) government is one of the most vicious since the beginning of the crisis. Its impact on the working class will be so generalised that the union leaders will not be able to prevent mobilisations, even if only to show that "they have tried" or to let off steam. The response of workers to these mobilisations, and the level of pressure exerted from below, will ultimately determine whether a new and necessary general strike will take place this autumn. To put the question of a general strike on the table again is essential, as a step in the launching of a sustained struggle to throw out this government.

After the last three general strikes, workers are drawing their own conclusions. We must avoid being led up the hill and down again in a new merely symbolic mobilisation, organized on a defeatist basis, which gives way to another long period of demobilisation.

General strike to transform the situation

It has already been shown that a one day general strike merely to let off steam will not be sufficient to transform the situation. What is needed is a real plan of struggle, which intensifies as it continues in order to make this government - weakened by corruption, lack of popular support, internal tensions and the disaster of its economic policies - tremble and fall. A new general strike cannot be like those that have gone before. It must kick-start a sustained plan of struggle with the short term aim of bringing down the government and ending its austerity policies.

Amongst the union leadership there does not seem to be a will to take up such a plan of struggle, as the leaders’ approach of contained mobilisation followed by defeatist negotiation is being consolidated. Thus, while continuing to struggle to remove this leadership, the working class must take the initiative to design and fight for the necessary plan of struggle, obliging the leadership to change its position. Democratic assemblies and united committees of struggle must be established and proliferated, and coordinated, to begin such a process. The left organisations, trade union rank and file, and social movements have the key role to play in this struggle.

We Demand:

• Remove the pension reforms of [Spanish Prime Minister] Rajoy and [former PM] Zapatero! For decent pensions linked to inflation! For retirement at 60 to share out the work!

• No to the new education law by the central government and new reforms by regional governments! Reverse all the cuts!

• Call a 24-hour general strike as the first step in a sustained escalating struggle to bring down the government

• For the fall of the government and the calling of new elections

• For a united front of the left and social and workers’ movements to fight for an alternative workers’ government to free us from the capitalist crisis with socialist policies!

Committee for a workers' International publications

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