Catalonia sees second general strike in a month
Unions, civic organizations and political parties sign up to stoppage demanding release of imprisoned Catalan officials
Catalonia sees its second general strike in just over a month on Wednesday, November 8, after the Spanish Superior Court in Catalonia ruled on Tuesday that the stoppage could go ahead. It is the second such protest in little more than a month, after the successful general strike on October 3 to protest Spanish police brutality during the October 1 referendum.
Despite uncertainty over whether the strike would go ahead, by Tuesday afternoon the stoppage was taking shape, with the CGT, the Coordinadora Obrera Sindical and USTEC unions all joining up. The strike to demand the release of imprisoned Catalan officials also has the support of the ANC and Òmnium Cultural pro-independence civic organisations. While the UGT and CCOO unions decided not to join the strike, arguing that the reasons for the stoppage are political, both organizations called on the public to join the demonstrations. Protests have been called outside town halls, and in the Cathedral square in Barcelona, at 6pm.
Catalan News will also be observing the strike called for November 8, 2017.
“Defending rights and freedoms not guaranteed in Spain”
“Wednesday is a day to come together and defend the rights and freedoms that are not guaranteed in Spain, but which are in Belgium,” said secretary general of the UGT union, Camil Ros, yesterday, in reference to the Belgian authorities allowing dismissed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont go free while eight of his ministers have been held in custody in Spanish prisons. Both the CCOO and UGT unions are calling for the release of the Catalan officials, and the also imprisoned heads of the ANC and Òmnium, as well as the withdrawal of Article 155 imposing direct rule on Catalonia from Madrid.
"Wednesday is a day to come together and defend the rights and freedoms that are not guaranteed in Spain"
Camil Ros · Secretary general of the UGT union
Along with major unions and the ANC and Òmnium supporting the stoppage, the strike is also backed by the Defense Committees of the Republic (CDR in Catalan), which in recent days has organized the blocking of roads and railway lines in protest over the imprisonments. The CDR is expected to again block much of Catalonia’s transport infrastructure on Wednesday to coincide with the strike. Meanwhile, the ERC and CUP pro-independence parties will mobilize their members for the strike, with the Catalunya en Comú party backing only the protests but not the stoppage.
“Other mechanisms for channeling social unease”
However, the country’s main business associations have come out against the strike. The CECOT and PIMEC organizations argue that “there are other mechanisms for channeling social unease that do not harm the economy.” While CECOT argues that political issues should be dealt with by political institutions, PIMEC expressed sympathy for the imprisoned officials but argues that the strike is not a response to any conflict between companies and employees.