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.
An unusual piece of news. Because it is one thing for left-wing parties to put it in their election programmes or for trades unions to speak out for it, but quite another for it to actually happen. As Manuela Carmena has found out in Madrid, it is more difficult to make public what has been privatised than it is to stem the privatisation flood: large corporations specialised in providing public services work hard at lobbying and public technicians and trades unions make things difficult. However, you hear more and more about the wish to make services public or town hall-managed, and particularly in Catalonia.
Hernani Town Council has decided to make that step and take charge of the town cleaning service, which, like almost everywhere, has long been in private hands. In addition to left-wing Basque coalition EH Bildu's majority vote, Podemos too has supported the move.
Garbitania is the name of the public service which is going to be in charge of street cleaning from May onwards. Garbitania is a public service which has been set up by several town councils around Donostia; initially it was in charge of collecting waste materials from door to door (Atez Ate). It has now expanded its service and it will provide work for FCC employees.
Mayor Luix Intxauspe explained the decision to Hernaniko Kronika local newspaper: "Making the service public will give us various advantages: taking over the service will allow the town council to control it better. This basic public service will not be subject to the market, and there will be a better guarantee cleanliness. And, once it is public, there will be a 10% saving."
The Spanish socialists and Basque Nationalist Party (Basque right) voted against the move, saying that it would be more expensive for the town council to take on cleaning. Even so, the socialist town councillor has accepted that workers' rights will be better afterwards, and has congratulated the town council for that.
Hernani is not the first town in Gipuzkoa to take on town cleaning. In fact, Oñati town council managed to cancel the contract it had with FCC in 2016 by showing that the company was clearly breaking some of its conditions. That was how it regained control of the service, which had been privatised in 1998. Although even the oldest among us often forget it, town council services have not always been carried out by private companies.
On 14 April the biggest demonstration in Iruñea for a long time was held in support of the ten young people from Altsasu, Navarre, who are going to be tried in Madrid. Some people thought it was the biggest demonstration ever held there: the municipal police state that 38,000 people took part, while the organizers say that 50,000 did. Claiming that a brawl in which they took part was "terrorism", the prosecutor has called for them each to be imprisoned between 50 and 62 years.
“After taking part in a four-year long process, we have opened a new playground at our school. It will give boys and girls the same opportunities, they will be surrounded by nature and it has come from their dreams." This is now the new playground at Kurutziaga School at Durango, Bizkaia, has been described. It will be officially opened on 24th April.
After making preparatives over the last few months, BiziLagunEkin ('with our neighbours') platform has been set up in Donostia. "The current model of tourism in the city concerns us. We are a meeting place for people from different ideologies and ways of life. What brings us together is a concern about the consequences of tourism in our city on local people's lives".
The Government of Navarre (Basque Country) has decided to offer public health care to the people who have been excluded from it; for instance, immigrants without documents.
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.
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".