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A protest due to have been held on Friday in Torrevieja by waste disposal workers still in fear of their jobs, was cancelled in the week under the threat and fear of legal action and fines against those involved.

The contract for waste collection and street cleaning in Torrevieja came to an end recently, after being in place for the last 10 years. Controversial from the offset, the contract has led to criminal proceedings against the previous mayor of the city, Pedro Hernandez Mateo, sentenced to prison as a result, although still walking free to this day, pending a clemency appeal on account for the fact that he is a politician.

In addition, there has been an increase in the budget and expenditure, concerns from technicians and financial experts, the worry of dirty streets during the summer that the contract is not in place, and, for some time, the threat of job losses as the city´s mayor, Eduardo Dolón, wanted to split the contract and award it to two different companies, at the same time as the opposition Los Verdes wanted to municipalise the service, thus protecting the workforce.

The local police in Torrevieja have also carried out numerous protects over their working conditions, and they too have been threatened with both disciplinary and legal action, which has possibly sent an additional wave of fear through those wanting to carry out a legitimate and peaceful protest in order to get answers as to their future employment.

The CCOO union representing the cleaners issued a note saying that the protest should not go ahead, as the workers have been threatened that they would be in breach of the rules and their actions could lead to fines.

Nationally, a similar situation has already occurred, with almost 300 workers already appearing in court for their participation in strike action, the UGT union are calling for increased backing for a campaign against what they describe as the “criminalisation” of strikes and industrial action.

With threats of fines and even prison, Cándido Méndez of the UGT says that at least 260 workers who have protested for their rights are now facing a cumulative 120 years in jail, all whilst those given criminal convictions, such as is the case in Torrevieja, remain free.

With recent changes in labour laws making it easier for companies to get rid of staff, reduce wages or change their working conditions, some see Spain heading towards a time from which the country only recently became free, when the rights of the citizens were not a consideration.

Ignacio Fernández Toxo, from the CCOO, said that the courts are “trying to make examples of a few, instil fear and discourage people from participating in mobilisations and strikes. We’re talking about a fundamental right that’s enshrined in the Spanish constitution”, concluding, “We thought we had clearly overcome this phase in Spain. But it seems like maybe not”.

Prior to the changes being implemented, there had been a considerable increase in the number of strikes held in Spain. According to the Izquierda Plural, there were 994 strikes in Spain in 2013, 11.67% more than the 878 that took place in 2012. However, the days not worked decreased by 14.85%, from 1.29 million in 2012 to 1,090,000 days last year. These strikes involved 1.63 million workers, representing a 16.57% increase from the 1.36 million in 2012, with overall participation rising from 23.76% in 2012 to 27.42% in 2013.

The Izquierda Plural also point out that the government are keen to hide this information, which was mandatory, as they also want to censor the reality of conditions for the workers involved.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/44185/

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