Revolution or War n°4

(September 2015)

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Spanish Telecom Workers on All-Out Strike (CWO-ICT)

We reproduce here the statement that the Communist Workers Organization, the British group of the Internationalist Communist Tendency (, on the Telefónica strike. It presented the translation of text in spanish sent by a striker. We have no place to publish it here and we think that the previous article of the ICP reports better on this working class struggle. In the following, we make some comments of discussion: extension to the sector or geographical extension?

Spanish Telecom Workers on All-Out Strike (CWO)

The following document is translated from It concerns the indefinite or all-out strike of workers in the telecommunications sector in Spain. This in itself has been a rare thing in the class struggle in recent years. We don’t necessarily share the perspectives of the writer (who we don’t know) but we are publishing it as part of our internationalist duty to break the communications black-out on workers’ resistance to the increasing attacks of the capitalist system on their living conditions. From what we understand the strike is still going on after two months and the workers have organised themselves in assemblies which meet every fortnight. It is rare these days for workers to go on all-out strike but as JM makes clear they have reached a point of desperation faced with the level of exploitation through the kind of casualisation of working conditions (fake “self-employment” to make workers pay for their own equipment, zero hours contracts etc) that are now increasingly prevalent across the advanced capitalist world. It will have many echoes for workers everywhere facing the same conditions.

His comments about unions, established and new are interesting. Basically he accuses them both of being useless for defending the immediate interests of workers. This seems to be putting it more than mildly. We have learned from other sources that the traditional unions the CCOO (Workers Commissions linked to the Spanish Communist Party) and the UGT (General Union of Workers) linked to the Socialist Party have done everything in their power to sabotage the strikes. Once it was clear (after several weeks) that the strike was organised without them and that it was solid these trade unions called their own weekly two-day strike. They then entered into an agreement with the bosses, going behind the backs of the self-organised workers. The strikers denounced the actions of CCOO and UGT as an attempt to destroy the strike before its demands had been met. Slogans such as “we fight, we negotiate” have featured prominently in the protests, while union offices have been surrounded by angry workers and bombarded with eggs, flares, fireworks and other missiles.

This is not betrayal as some think but the normal actions of established unions which have become so much part of the legal framework of the state that this is now accepted by many workers world wide. However many still hope that by setting up new, rank and file, unions they can transform them into real organs of struggle. However, as JM hints, the new unions are little better than the old ones as they soon find that having a permanent existence means also that they too are sucked into the institutional arrangements of the state and answer to a different agenda than that of the workers in struggle. The problem here is not of intentions, or good or bad leaders, but the function of any economic organ which attempts a permanent existence under capitalism today. For the workers strike committees formed out of the struggle controlled by mass meetings or assemblies are a more likely fruitful path to real struggle as the telecoms workers in Spain are showing.

The telecoms workers are fighting for their very existence here and JM’s arguments about why there should be greater solidarity with them are very persuasive. We do not comment on their demands raised which are a matter for the workers in struggle but achieving them will be difficult given that a capitalism in crisis needs to raise the rate of exploitation. There is also one omitted aspect in JM’s account. There are concrete possibilities here for international extension of the struggle as Teleafonica operates in 5 countries and has over 100,000 workers but this is not mentioned in this document. However this does not detract from the fact that after years of retreat this struggle is one more piece of evidence that the working class which capitalist scribblers have written out of history still has a history of its own to make. In the long run this will not be just about demanding better working conditions from bosses but a better system which not only does away with bosses but the entire system of exploitation. From struggles like these the sparks of consciousness will develop and in the course of time link up politically with the communist programme to establish an organisational framework which can lead the fight for a new world of freely associated producers.


Extension within the Corporation or on a Geographic Basis? (IGCL)

We salute the introduction that the comrades of the Communist Workers Organization (British group of the Internationalist Communist Tendency) have made to their translation into English of a report of an indefinite strike (Spanish Telecom Workers on All-Out Strike) in Spain in the telecom sector ( We side with the CWO in its support to the strikers in Spain (who, as everywhere in the world, suffer increasingly unsustainable conditions of exploitation ) and its willingness to underline the political importance and significance of the kind of working class struggle in the present days: these struggles are a “ censored ” reality today at the international level. By reproducing this text, we first of all try to participate in the CWO fight to attempt “ to break the communications black-out on workers’ resistance ”.

We also globally agree with its denunciation of the unions whether they be “official ” (the great and “ old ” Trade Unions or “ Confederations ”) or whether they be more militant and minoritarian unions presented as “ rank and file unions ” or “ base unions ”. Actually, any unitarian mass organization, any organization of struggle (like unions of course but it goes the same with any assembly or strike committee which would survive to open struggle) cannot live on permanently without being inescapably absorbed and turned by the totalitarian capitalist state of our time against the working class’s interests, except during periods of massive mobilization (that is mainly in pre-revolutionary and revolutionary periods). In this sense the formula of the CWO text according to which “ strike committees formed out of the struggle controlled by mass meetings or assemblies are a more likely fruitful path to real struggle ” is at least clumsy since it leaves the door opened to the idea that the unions would still represent “ a path (though less efficient) for the struggle ”. In fact, the unions are the saboteurs and the opponents of the struggle (whatever the willingness and the sincerity of the base delegates and members).

Finally, we think the orientation of international extension within the telecoms sector put forwards by the CWO because “ there are concrete possibilities here for international extension of the struggle as Teleafonica operates in 5 countries and has over 100,000 workers ” is not the path to take, nor the orientation of struggle to put forward. Concretely, in the real facts and practice, this orientation remains confined by its economic nature, and if followed by workers, would mean being trapped in a corporatist struggle which would quickly revert to its strictly syndical nature... According to us, the orientation communists should put forward in this kind of struggle is on the contrary the “ geographical ” extension beyond the sector or “ corporation ”, in the cities and companies which are physically accessible by the mass of the workers on strike; from here to other workers sectors of Madrid, Barcelona, etc. So the spreading of the struggle to other sectors on a geographical basis tends to assert the unity and the autonomy of the working class as a whole against the capitalist state and its whole apparatus (unions, political forces, police, media, etc.) which, amongst other things, always aims to divide it and precisely break its unity. According to us, the geographical extension of the struggle across sectors is “ the most efficient path ” because it allows a “ concrete possibility ” (practically, it is easier to contact the workers of the same city than those of the same “ globalized ” company) to impose a relation of forces to capital at the level of the immediate demands (and so force capitalism to withdraw for a moment its economic attacks) as well as at the level of the indispensible historical revolutionary experience of the proletariat. It is also thus that “ the sparks of consciousness will develop and (...) link up politically with the communist programme ”.

These few critical observations [1] do not change our siding with the CWO-ICT in its support to this and all of the working class’s struggles, nor does it change the fact that we share the essentials of its denunciation of the unions as well as its underlining “ that after years of retreat this struggle is one more piece of evidence that the working class (...) has a history of its own to make ”.

IGCL, June 8th 2015.



[1. Since this first article, the CWO has published another one which comes back on this struggle. It matters to note that the weaknesses of the first we criticize here, are not present in this one, Telefónica strike in Spain (