Eneko Leunda (ELA) and Xabier Izagirre (LAB) are the workers' representatives at the Tolosa and Donostia workshops: "Working with people with mental disabilities is not easy", Leunda tells us. Izagirre, on the other hand, says that "the numbers of people with mental illnesses has increased over the last fifteen years. For instance, even people who have studied at university, but who have got involved with drugs, suffer from depression."
“We defend the same rights for all workers, but each of these workers has particular characteristics, we have to listen to each person's problems and, so, the problems are not just work issues, we also have to listen to their difficulties outside work. So we have to work as 'psychologists'", they both say.
“At first Gureak was an occupational centre, it was special, the workshops were protected. And still now 1,000 of the 5,500 workers do not have contracts. The growth has been incredible. A new model should be worked on in order to improve the situation. A medical office would be good for improving workers' efficiency; there is a personal helper, but that has to be improved on", Izagirre adds.
As companies and public authorities apparently do not comply with the Disabled People's Social Integration Law, workers with disabilities go to specialised centres: "These centres are increasingly large, and the transition phase is not carried out as it should be. Ordinary companies do not take these disabled people on, they employ them through subcontracts. And at what price do they work? Well, at the price the companies set, which is the lowest possible. That's the real problem. If the Basque Autonomous Community companies complied with the law, Gureak would be their starting point: an occupational centre and its training, perhaps, developed in a different way", they both say.
In these two ELA and LAB representatives' words, "companies should comply with the law, but to do so the law itself must be updated. Gureak has resources and it does really good work, highly qualified work, increasingly so, but we always hear the same excuse: "The market's in really bad shape." Gureak works for very large companies in the automobile sector, and using increasingly sophisticated processes, but it seems it makes profits for the other companies. "These workers are happy with their jobs, but they all want to earn more. That's what they tell us. They know what other people earn, and people with contracts know 'how much they make at other places'. It's a normal thing to want, we want it to."
Companies like Gureak are a gift for the public authorities. In fact, if Atzegi had not set up Gureak back in the day, the authorities would have had to and, if that had not happened, they would have had much higher costs: "We were both civil servants, our wages were public sector ones."
Gipuzkoa seems to be on the right track, but they both believe that "a well-run public system should improve these companies' situation, if public administrations took charge of them, these people would be in a different place."
“We criticise the Basque Government rather than Gureak, it's the government which should protect conditions and rights. The Basque Government should fine companies which don't comply with the law. That's the snag. In fact, except for salaries the other conditions are good: holidays and relationships, for instance. But, just like us, they want to earn more, live in a flat with their partner, and they can't".
This article was translated by 11itzulpen.
A pension of less than 1,080 Euros. That is the figure which the Pentsionistak Martxan (Pensioners on the March) platform has set forward as the lowest dignified pension, and on 17th March tens of thousands of people demonstrated in the main Basque cities in support. The people furthest from that objective in the Basque Autonomous Community (Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa) are women.
In 2017 somebody at Sarriguren (in the Iruñea area of Navarre) suggested that part of the town's participative budget be used to create a natural wooded area along the canal there.
The Basque Country Feminist Movement has given its first evaluation of the day. They underline that it was "a complete success", as can be seen in the photographs. They see the strike's success as turning point, and say it is time to take real measures "once and for all". According to the feminist movement, 230,000 women demonstrated in the Basque Country on the day.
Over recent years the FCC company has been in charge of keeping the streets of Hernani (Gipuzkoa) clean, just as in many other Basque towns. But from May onwards Hernani's own Garbitania public service will be doing that. Votes from EH Bildu and Orain Hernani (Podemos) passed switching the service from the private sector back to the public sector.
Basque political prisoner Xabier Rey Urmeneta has died in Puerto de Santa Maria Prison (Cadiz, Spain), more than 1,000 kilometres from his home in Iruñea.
A demonstration had been organised for 14th April in Iruñea in support of the three young people who have been held in prison for almost a year and a half, and to demand they be given a fair trial. After a pub brawl with two members of the Civil Guard (Spanish armed forces), they were arrested and have been held in custody since then.
Last Saturday the anti-incinerator movement organised a mass demonstration in Donostia-San Sebastian (Basque Country). They gave the provincial government and its leader, Markel Olano, a message: "Use your energy recycling, not just burning refuse".
Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour de France, has replied to a request made by Euskaltzaindia (the Royal Academy of the Basque Language), and stated that the official signs as the Tour goes through Senpere and Ezpeleta on 28th July will be bilingual, in Basque and French.
This year is the Eusko's fifth birthday. This solidarity and ecology-focused local currency is used in Lapurdi, Lower Navarre and Zuberoa (the northern Basque Country, which is under French administration). It is strongly supported by both citizens and institutions, and the aim is to continue enlarging the network which uses it. To celebrate the fifth anniversary, a "great family-style party" has been organised for 4th March.
On the morning of 20th February, 2003, I picked up the phone and heard Joxemari Irazusta's voice: "The Civil Guard have arrested Pello Zubiria." Pello? Joxemari told me the little he knew about it, and I couldn't believe it. I got back into bed; I couldn't digest the news. After turning around for a couple of minutes I got up again and set off for Lasarte (Gipuzkoa), the place where we edit ARGIA.