Spain’s General Strike

Last week (Thursday, March 29th) we had a huelga general, which is Spanish for a “general strike” or national strike.  A national strike is one that is called by the major unions in this country, like CC.OO. (Comisiones Obreras) and UGT (Unión General de Trabajadores), among others, as a form of protest mainly against government labor laws.  To an American who grew up in the Reagan period of “Oh, you’re going on strike, are you?  You’re fired”, national strikes have always been a European singularity.  That classic 19th Century weapon employed to keep government in check.  Sickles and hammers everywhere, overalls over all, and fists raised high up to the sky.  Those things that your History teacher would tell you that “There was a time when people did those things.”

      Well, in Spain they still do.  And they aren’t all that rare either.  In fact, they are all together too common in my opinion, and not because I inherently against them.  I just feel that they should be a resort used sparingly to maintain their effectiveness.  Since the current constitution was ratified, there have been ten general strikes, with the first going back to 1981.

      And, contrary to popular belief, they it isn’t just about the Left taking on the Right.  In fact, only three of the ten general strikes since 1981 have been aimed at clearly Right-wing administrations.

     I have seen my share; seven have taken place during my time here.  And to be honest with you, there isn’t much to them.  The same people call for them.  Pretty much the same people second them.  Pretty much the same people oppose them.  In my school absolutely no one that I know of went on strike, which on face value should have been notable because school’s a traditional strongholds for syndicated organizations.  I actually am a non-member member, I still don’t know what thatc means other than that I have never paid due.  I joined at the request of a friend to ensure that another person at the school would not be on the team, which I find to be kind of uncomradelike.  Weren’t we supposed to support each other?  But I learned a lot about unions when I was part of one and now know why I don’t think much of them, and it doesn’t have anything to do with politics.  It’s that they don’t want you to think on your own.  They want you to think just like them.  C’est fini.

      I couldn’t even use the excuse that I couldn’t use the public transportation here because I only live five minutes on foot from the gates of the school.  It didn’t matter.  Most stores in my neighborhood opened, things being the way they are most can’t afford to skip a day, and that was about it.  Many factories and public transportation sectors, traditionally heavily unionized did their part to keep service to a minimum.  InCatalonia, the radicals had their field day, but they always do.  Kind ofCalgaryfans when they lose a Stanley Cup final.  Sorry about the stab there, but I didn’t earn the reputation, I’ve got my own earned ones.

     And the day went on.  The unions said it was a resounding success.  The government stated it was a hopeless failure.  The usual spiel, I tell you.

     And that’s my beef with these strikes.  There is so little interesting about them.  There are no surprises.  They are as predictable as the weather in July here:  Sunny and hot.

     Now, that was one boring post for you.  But strikes just aren’t that witty, I’m sorry.

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