Monday, February 18, 2013

Spanish airline workers battle cops; fight for jobs

The strike by Spanish employers of Iberia Airlines got off to a violent start today as, to phrase it in media spin, “Striking workers clashed with police”. I may appear to be nitpicking to some readers but describing this as a “clash” doesn’t explain much which is why it is described that way. More accurately, the arm of the government we call the police, is being used (through whatever methods necessary including violence) to prevent workers from stopping the restructuring of the airline and elimination of jobs; profits must come first. Stopping production is economic terrorism from the bosses’ point of view. The media pointed out that some of the workers attacked their British bosses with chants of “British go Home” which is unfortunate as the crisis affecting all workers in Europe needs a Europe wide, in fact global response.

Not being on the ground, I cannot determine the depth of this nationalist expression and it could be very limited but it is an example of the Team Concept along national lines, siding with our national employers against foreign competitors. Both Spain and Greece have seen repeated strikes and protests (numerous General Strikes for Greece) against austerity measures without much success. General Strikes cannot go on indefinitely. A General Strike places the issue of state power on the table and at some point continued strikes with no resolution demoralizes workers and opens the door to right wing and fascist forces as we have seen in Greece with the growth of Golden Dawn. The vacuum has to be filled.  The European bourgeois were burned by fascism in the past which helps to keep it at bay, but will not hesitate to return to it if it appears they could lose all.

The strikes in Spain are expected to be in five-day intervals. Tourism is a major source of revenue for Spain at about 11% of economic output and the strikes will have a major affect in a country with a 26% unemployment rate. The stakes are high though and it is an absolute certainty that the state will respond with severe repression rather than allow the workers to dictate economic policy or infringe on the right of investors to rake in the cash at workers’ expense. Like Greece, though, the Spanish working class is not in the position to defeat what amounts to a global capitalist offensive in isolation. While the workers' leaders in Europe are definitely different than those here in the US, on the major issues they are the same; the market and capitalism must be bailed out at all costs-----the alternative is chaos.

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