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Dec 21, 2013

The CGT’s Proposals and Alternatives to the Crisis

This past summer I had the opportunity to spend a few days with members of the Confederación General del Trabajo in Barcelona. With a membership of about 60,000, the CGT is the largest anarcho-syndicalist labor union in the world. It split with the more famous Confederación Nacional del Trabajo in the late 1980s over the issue of participation in government sponsored works councils. Without getting into the details, this means that the CGT can be thought of as the more reformist minded of the two unions. Its members see themselves as trying to build an anarcho-syndicalist capable of threatening 21st century capitalism.

The people in CGT that I met with were generous enough to give me a rather large pile of their literature. I’m hoping to translate some of it into English over the next couple of weeks, while I am on break from my studies. My initial offering is the CGT’s 2013 platform of demands in response to the financial crisis in the European Union. I speak, read and write pretty good Spanish but I am not an experienced translator. I apologize for the bits of the translation that aren’t super clear.

The CGT’s Proposals and Alternatives to the Crisis

Repeal all legislation and reforms that take away rights from the population (Labor Reform, Easy Firing, Collective Bargaining, Pensions, Constitutional Reform, Immigration Law, the projected law about abortion...)*

Divide the wealth. Economic protection, including a social salary, sufficient for the millions of unemployed persons to live with dignity.

Protection from the evictions. A moratorium on them until the end of the crisis and the creation of a social program that guarantees access to housing. Assistance for the social spaces of autogestion.**

Divide the work so everyone has work. Reduce the working day, reduce the age of retirement, prohibition of the EREs, of contracts and subcontracts, of overtime, piecework and grants that hide jobs. Elimination of the ETTs.***

Autogestion for the workers in the factories recuperated from capital.

No to the privatization of Health, Education, Transportation, Communication, Energy, Water... Expropriation of the factories that were public before and that provide the basic needs of society.

Guaranteed universal access to the public services to all people with and without papers. [i.e. whether or not they are citizens or legal immigrants]

The right for all people to move freely.

Equal distribution of municipal civil work. Development of the help to the dependencies.****

The right to free time and a balance between work life and family and social life.

Financial reform for those that are paid the most and who have the most. An increase on the taxes on large businesses and those with great fortunes. Persecution of financial fraud. Reduction of IVA.*****

A public bank owned and under social control that allows families to have access to its resources.

No payment of the debt or its interest. Audit of the debt by a participatory process under civic control with a first step to the annulment of all of the illegitimate debt. Demand of penal responsibilities for those that caused the crisis.

Use of public money for meeting the needs of the people and not for rescuing the banks.

The closing of the financial casinos and tax havens.

Liberty for all militant syndicalist or anarchist political prisoners. No to repression and criminalization.

Their model of democracy is not good for us. Our position is for a new model of direct democracy, participatory and from below.

Rejection of the European Union with its institutions that drive the politics and policies of neoliberalism.

Abandonment of a political economy aimed at the unlimited growth. It needs to be replaced by another that follows the limits of the planet’s natural resources.

A solution to energy, climate and biodiversity crisis that threatens the survival of millions of people.

*This is a list of laws that have been passed that reduce the rights of the population in response to the economic crisis. I didn’t translate the phrase “exigencia de las 35 peonadas para cobrar el subsidio” because I am not sure exactly what it means. I think it refers to a reduction in guaranteed wages or minimum wage.

**Autogestion is a word with no exact English equivalent. It could loosely be translated self-managed. But it implies an act of self-creation as well. The last sentence of this paragraph might alternatively be translated: Assistance for self-managed social spaces or self-managed cooperatives.

***ERE is a particular aspect of Spanish labor law. Here, I think, it refers to laying people off as redundant. ETTs are Spanish temporary agencies.

****Not sure of the last sentence. The original reads: Desarrollo de las ayudas a la Dependencia.

*****IVA is value added tax. It is kind of like sales tax.

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