HUNGER STRIKE FOR WORK AND DIGNITY | BARCELONA #15M Newsletter nr 34

A hunger strike which lasted 23 days started on November 5th in the building of the biggest telecommunications company in Spain: Telefonica. After having a profit of 10,167 million euro in 2010, they announced the mass dimissal of 6,500 workers in april 2011. This was possible thanks to the labour law that changed in 2011, allowing companies to do these mass dimissals in case of perceiving a risk of reducing their profit. Most of the workers volunteered to take part of the layoff plan: Some of them got an early retirement, some others had huge compensations. There were only a few critical voices inside the company, while outside a lot of people were claiming against Telefonica’s lack of social responsability for laying off that many workers in the middle of a crisis.

While this was happening, Marcos and Mari Cruz were laid off as well, but under totally different circumstances that the new law also permited: absentism and lack of productivity,  which in their cases wasjustified with a sick leave. Both think that, in fact, it was a strategy of the company to silence the rest of the workers about the mass dimissal through the fear of losing their jobs. Some people got together to perform the first Telefonica flashmob to protest against the situation of Marcos on May 2011 and there have been since several flashmobs, strikes and protests to give him support for almost two years.

Marcos was involved in trade union activity and stood for the elections for the works committee, and besides the new absentism law was applied retroactively, so sacking him was against the constitution on grounds of breach of fundamental rights in both cases. That was why Marcos sued the company and the court declared his dimissal null and void. This meant the company had to readmit him. But Telefonica appealed the court’s decision and then the dimissal was declared unfair, which left the decision of readmiting Marcos to be taken by the company. Marcos doesn’t want the compensation they offered him, he wants his job back. Besides this, the situation in the company has become dramatic: sick workers go to work afraid of losing their jobs if they stay at home, and a big silence policy has been generated.

As the situation around Marcos case arrived to a dead point, the platform “Yes, I am profitable”  (Plataforma Sí soy Rentable), Marcos readmission Platform (Plataforma Marcos Readmisión) and two unions of the company made a call for a hunger strike on November 5th, in the company’s building, at the works committee offices. The strike was followed by Marcos and six more people which are members of the committee and job mates. Many others showed solidarity as well, as more than one hundred collectives went over to support them along the 23 days the strike lasted, although some of the strikers had to abandon halfway through due to health concerns and only 4 resisted the 23 days. The demands were the readmision of Marcos and the guarantee that nobody else in the company could be laid off because of being sick. Many other actions were done around the strike: demonstrations, concerts, flashmobs, twitter campaigns, etc.

After 23 days, on November 27th they called for a press release and they stopped the strike, although they hadn’t reached the readmission. They considered that some objectives were accomplished, such as breaking the media silence, gathering together social movements and work struggles, showing new ways of fighting which are strong enough to face big corporations and a promise of several parties, unions and social organisations to act as mediators in the conflict and to work towards a law which protects sick workers from being laid off.
They announced they will step forward if mediation doesn’t work.

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Twitter: @HHTelefonica;  #MovistarNosRoba ; #HuelgaHambreTelefonica

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