Eneko Leunda and Xabier Izagirre

"The salaries are very low"

  • 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."

Mikel Asurmendi @masurmendi
2017ko irailaren 20a

“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.

Kanal hauetan artxibatua: English  |  Zerbitzuak

English kanaletik interesatuko zaizu...
2018-01-02 | ARGIA
The workers at the largest auditorium in Bilbao have gone on strike

Bilbao's largest work-meeting and music centre was built on the site of an old shipyard, which had seen many work-related conflicts: Euskalduna. The 45 workers who provide the complementary services in the auditorium have called an indefinite strike, calling for better working conditions.

Support from Iru˝ea for activist Helena Maleno, who has saved hundreds of migrants

When migrants are drifting at risk on the sea near Gibraltar, they know who to call: Helena Maleno's number is always available, and she puts the Spanish Sea Rescue Service in the picture as quickly as possible.

2017-12-20 | Andoni Mikelarena
Official report concludes that more than 4,000 people were tortured in the Basque Country

The University of the Basque Country's Criminology Institute and the Basque Government have published a report on cases of torture between 1960 and 2014. The report's directors –doctor in law Laura Pego and recognized court doctor Pako Etxeberria– have provided the information: during those years they found evidence of 4,113 cases of torture in the Basque Country.

2017-11-17 | Xabier Letona
A call for 600 years of sentencing for supporting Basque prisoners

Standing up for EPPK (Basque Political Prisoners Collective) prisoners is a greater risk in the 21st century than it was in the worst times of the Franco regime, as is political activism in their favour, being concerned about their rights, or helping their relatives financially. The "Everything is ETA" emergency doctrine is absolutely in force.

2017-10-04 | Xabier Letona
The October Revolution in Catalonia

Tearing up the Statute on the 20th of September, the referendum on the 1st of October, the general strike on the 3rd of October: those are the historical keys from the start of this autumn which will open up Catalonia's immediate future. And after everything which has happened in Catalonia over the last two weeks, it is hard to imagine any route other than that towards independence.

2017-09-20 | Mikel Asurmendi
Charity is something from the past; quality is what they sell nowadays

Is the Gureak or KateaLegaia (KL) workers' world known to the general public? Do people know about their work? Their conditions and contribution? There are nearly 7,000 worker involved in Gipuzkoa. We spoke with Iñigo Oyarzabal from Gureak and Pablo Nuñez, the managing director of KL, as well as with several trades unions representatives at both companies.

2017-08-01 | Lander Arretxea
A wave which may drown us

The archives are full of articles underlining the advantages and benefits of tourism. But something is changing, and quickly at that. More and more people have stopped seeing "tourism" as a neutral, clear and agreeable word. You cannot help be scared by the endless queue to visit Gaztelugatxe. Everyone has a friend or relative who has had to leave where they live because of the increase in the price of housing. Local associations and assemblies are more and more worried; reports and... [+]

2017-06-08 | Unai Brea
Spades against cement

Ibarbengoa metro station, between Getxo and Berango, was completed in 2011, but it has never been used. The station is part of a larger plan which has yet to be carried out: 8,000 houses and a giant car park in an area which has kept its rural character until now. The housing project has been temporarily suspended, but the car park plan has not. A group of citizens has spent six years on the field where the car park is going to be built: their aim is to stop its construction and, at the same... [+]

High Speed Railway: Workers exploited in the contractors' empire

Nothing is what it seems inside the Basque Country's largest public works programme. It could have been a symbol of progress, but it has brought extreme precariousness with it. They say it will connect us with the north of Europe, but it is using the sweat and blood of people from the south. Thousands of millions of Euros, two decades and 6,000 people are going to be needed to build the High Speed Railway. Will they be able to do that without squeezing the workers' necks? We have... [+]

Eguneraketa berriak daude