The confluence of spain’s divided anarcho-syndicalist unions

The CGT, the CNT and Solidaridad Obrera present an agreement for the unity of action of the three organisations. A historic step for anarcho-syndicalism

(, 11/04/2023)

Last Monday, April 10, at the premises of the Anselmo Lorenzo Foundation in Madrid, the three anarcho-syndicalist forces of our country jointly presented a shared document that calls for the confluence and unity of action of militant labour unionism.

Thirty years after the division of historical anarcho-syndicalism, the three main organisations in Spain, the General Confederation of Labor (Confederación General del Trabajo-CGT), the National Confederation of Labor (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo-CNT) and the Solidarity Workers Union Confederation (Confederación Sindical Solidaridad Obrera) have presented a joint document entitled To the working class: For mobilisation and confluence. Maribel Ramírez, Secretary of Trade Union Action of the CGT, Antonio Díaz, General Secretary of the CNT and José Luis Carretero, General Secretary of Solidaridad Obrera intervened in the public presentation of the document. The act was held at the headquarters of the historic Anselmo Lorenzo Foundation, linked to the CNT and depositary of the main archive of the libertarian movement in our country.

In an atmosphere of camaraderie and good intentions, the three spokespersons spoke of the significance of the agreement reached. Antonio Díaz of the CNT stated that the confluence has as its objective the “fomenting the working class struggle”. For her part, Maribel Ramírez from the CGT stated that “it is everyone’s responsibility to begin to come together and carry out a joint fight against the aggressions that are taking place by capital and the State”. In this sense, José Luis Carretero of Solidaridad Obrera stated that the unity of action proposed by the document comes when we find ourselves at a “historical crossroads” and added that the three organisations share a “common past” and that what is being proposing is “a present agreement, to build a future”.

After the shared congratulations and the declarations of intent, the act developed the points mentioned in the statement, beginning with the claim for decent public pensions. Antonio Díaz expressed that we must “promote the idea that those of us who have to fight for pensions are the workers”, and not only pensioners. Maribel Ramírez added that it is necessary to try to get the youth involved in this fight, and José Luis Carretero gave as an example of the struggle that is taking place right now in France, with the fight over the retirement age. Continuing with the discussion of the public declaration, the union struggle against the wage gap, the claims of feminism and the defence of public services were also spoken of.

The three anarcho-syndicalist union representatives also shared the idea of the union as “new institutions of the commons”, in the words of José Luis Carretero, that represent a diverse working class, with a “multiplicity of subjects”, encompassing workers of strategic companies/industries, but also of small businesses, those with precarious jobs and self-employed women. They also made it clear that there are “organisational differences” between the three union forces, but as Maribel Ramírez said “they are united by the same purpose”, jokingly adding that it was necessary to thank “capital and the State” for having favoured by their actions against the interests of the working class “the coming together of the three organisations at the same table”.

The three anarcho-syndicalist organisations also expressed their concern about the war in Ukraine, of which they have stated that the main victim is the working class. Antonio Díaz recalled in this regard that “anti-war” is a hallmark of anarcho-syndicalism. José Luis Carretero pointed out how precisely the war curtails public liberties, produces authoritarian drifts, and strengthens laws such as the Gag Law that in our country has resulted in people “going to prison for writing a tweet.” In this sense, the representative of Solidaridad Obrera indicated that the unions present should be “shields in defence of the rights won.”

Precisely on the basis of the logic of confluence, mutual support and class solidarity, throughout the event the situation of the CNT comrades retaliated against by the La Suiza pastry shop, in Xixón, was very present. Maribel Ramírez expressed it clearly and forcefully: “If they touch one of us, they touch us all”. The act closed with different interventions from the public who congratulated those present on the agreement and who have actively encouraged it as a first step for further joint initiatives, not only at the level of labour struggles, but also in addressing social issues in villages,  neighbourhoods and cities. Indeed, for Miguel Fadrique, General Secretary of the CGT, “the exercise of responsibility that the three organisations are assuming must go beyond a statement and a press conference. That responsibility has to lead us to build a serious labour union and social alternative, a space that works together day by day and in which the majority of the working class sees itself reflected. Above the initials of the organisations is the defence of increasingly deteriorated labour and social rights; and faced with this, only the unity of the working class will be able to reverse this situation”.

CGT, CNT and Solidaridad Obrera: To the working class: For mobilisation and confluence

The National Confederation of Labour (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo-CNT), the General Confederation of Labor (Confederación General del Trabajo-CGT) and the Solidaridad Obrera Union Confederation (Confederación Sindical Solidaridad Obrera-SO) are three organisations that recognise themselves as heirs to the workers’ tradition of anarcho-syndicalism. The memory of those who fought for the construction of the labour movement in the territory that we share, and the objective of building a libertarian society, in which exploitation and oppression have disappeared, that we have in common, we maintain and promote.

In the present situation of crisis and war, we call on workers to mobilise to make the following demands:

-The defence of public pensions, bearing in mind that the planned cuts in them are an aggression, not only against pensioners, but also against the working class as a whole. The defence of the purchasing power of pensions, salaries and the guarantee of basic household supplies, preventing employers from continuing to increase their profit margins in a context of high inflation, in which the pro-government unions abandon the fight for wage increases. The defence of public services, demanding the reversal of privatised services and the laws that allow it, as well as an increase in staff and budgets for services such as health, education or dependency.

-The defence of equality in the workplace, guaranteeing the disappearance of the wage gap between men and women and the prevention of risks in the face of occupational pathologies that affect women to a greater extent. The defence of the right to housing for the working class, against the evictions that increases in interest rates will have as a consequence, and the demand for sufficient public housing with socially accessible rents. The defence of migrant workers, who are subjected to illegality and violence, while they produce a large part of the wealth. The defence of nature, guaranteeing the emergence of a new society and a new economy, respectful of the ecosystem. The end of Spanish participation in any of the wars in which it is participating, including the one in Ukraine, which is unleashing an arms race on the continent and a growing social and economic crisis.

-The end of the repression unleashed against the social movements and against the labour movement. We demand union freedom and basic civil liberties, which are in danger due to ignominious events such as the repression against the CNT comrades from the La Suiza pastry shop, in Xixón. We demand the freedom of all the people who are being made the objects of reprisals for participating in social struggles.

The CGT, the CNT and Solidaridad Obrera have decided to overcome the isolation imposed on us by the dynamics of partial struggles and focus on what we have in common; to overcome the dispersed mobilisations and try to overwhelm the official trade unionism by promoting a great joint process of mobilisation of militant trade unionism. We call on the working class to fight for their rights and win their emancipation, in these moments of crisis, through struggle and unity of action.

(, 03/04/2023)

History of Anarcho-syndicalist Catalonia, from british television

For material in english on the history of spain’s CNT available online, see the and The Anarchist Library websites.

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