United to face challenges

By Iban Ocio & Aitziber Laskibar, Berria, 21 February 2004

The ELA and LAB trade unions warned that the Basque Country was “in need of a national strategy in favour of self-determination”, and they, too, would be fighting together from that moment onwards, because unity gave them “greater strength”

4,000 ELA and LAB militants held a demonstration in Bilbo yesterday to recall ten years of trade union cooperation. In the Gran Via [Bilbo's main street] they demanded the creation of “a Basque Sphere in Labour Relations”. When they got to the Euskalduna Palace they reflected on the past. They spoke among other things about job insecurity, employers' “arrogance”, “bittersweet” political change, and the “brutal assault” on Basque cultural activity. They hailed “self-determination” as the tool to ensure the rights of Basque citizens. “United we will face future challenges,” they stressed.

Trade union militants were summoned for ten o'clock in the morning. It was in fact to celebrate ten years of cooperation. The banner with the slogan “Lan Harremanetarako Euskal Esparrua. Geure buruaren jabe, geure geroaren jabe” (A Basque Sphere for Labour Relations. Masters of Ourselves and Masters of our Own Future). They wore green (ELA) flags and red (LAB) ones on their backs and marched down the Gran Via for an hour. Workers of the Caballito company of Gasteiz (Vitoria) were there alongside subcontracted workers of the Water Authority and cleaners from Basauri [all of whom are currently involved in labour disputes]. Plus 4,000 trade union militants expressing solidarity.

The throng got to the Euskalduna Palace at eleven. They burst into the main hall, into the warm. When the hall was full, the presenters of the event spoke. But before that the scene of the massive demonstration that took place in Donostia (San Sebastian) two days after the closing down of Egunkaria appeared on the video screen. The ELA and Lab militants responded with a round of applause. That was followed by an audiovisual production on trade union cooperation.