There are five trade unions representatives at KL. Diego Bravo Barquilla (CCOO), Edurne Castro Etxaburu (LAB) Maite Rodriguez Lekue (ELA) Jesús Galdaera Zubieta (ELA) and Mª Dolores Jimenez Martinez (CCOO). Here are a few of their points of view.
The stigma faced by disabled workers: Many of them do not want to say that they are disabled. They introduce themselves as if they were working in ordinary companies: "Why do we have to go to a special company because we have a disability?" Rodriguez admits that she had not wanted to come to KL. She says: "Ours is a very productive world, both at work and in terms of social relationships."
Workers' strength: "We workers at KL have more strength than those at Gureak", all five of them say. Are our salaries low? That's true. But we got through the economic crisis quite well. Compared with ordinary companies, we weathered the crisis better, our salaries have gone up every year.
The need to work on disabilities: “One of the things we trade unions representatives have to work on is improving the specific work post depending on each worker's disability: they have come here from other jobs (whether because of illness or as a result of an accident) with the skills they had before, but 'as their disability is a new thing', they have to get used to their new position." Several jobs have to be examined as disability limits the ability to improve performance.
Disabled People's Social Integration Law: "The public authorities do not comply with the law. The law says that ordinary companies must have 2% disabled workers, but many companies would rather pay a fine than comply with the law. Companies do not want disabled workers." Galdaera says that "if the law were enforced, there wouldn't be any centres like this." They would be occupational centres. At occupational centres 80% of workers have mental disabilities. Bravo says: "The law puts down a transitional phase from workers to move over to ordinary companies. The authorities should pay more attention to companies complying with the law. Neither the Basque Government nor the provincial government of Gipuzkoa comply with the law in their own areas, and they don't do anything to develop the transitional phase for workers. Some companies say that they do, but the people they employ are subcontracted and they don't get paid the same as the other workers."
KL's contribution: "People know our company, but not on the inside. In fact, when workers start here they're astonished by the quality we produce", says Rodriguez. Bravo adds: "A part of society believes that we do not produce like other people because we are disabled, so many people have the idea that ordinary companies save us. But it isn't at all like that. Galdaera does not agree. "What people know and don't know about us isn't the same in every town. I'm from Aretxabaleta and the worker families there are close to us."
Increasingly free from being dominated: These workshops do not make their own products, they are subcontracted. However, their work is getting better and better and they are increasingly free from anybody else's dominance. Thanks to taking work responsibly, they recycle and gain qualifications. So they are increasingly demanding with the companies they give work to, and this leads to improved quality at work posts too.
Working in solidarity: "There are also workers at KL whose illnesses or disabilities have been late-comers. Relationships with them are more complicated. When disabled workers who have worked in ordinary companies come to us, the work process tends to be complex", all five say. Jimenez says: "The beginnings are not easy. You have to work on getting along. Having professional health workers to hand is good, but mostly it's the other workers who have to help them. People with serious disabilities need to trust other Individuals even more and be treated with solidarity, love and encouragement.
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.
The European Court of Human Rights has condemned the Spanish State for torturing Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola. The judges decided that Spain had contravened the 3rd clause of the European Convention. The Spanish State has to pay the two men 30,000 and 20,000 Euros, respectively, "for moral damages".
Andoain Town Council (Gipuzkoa, Basque Country) has signed an agreement with Fiare. Socially excluded citizens, and those in danger of being so, will be able to ask for loans from the ethical bank without the guarantees required by traditional banks.
The Basque feminist movement gave the details of the strike which it has called for 8th March at Donostia's Tabakalera International Contemporary Art Centre.
On 13th May, 2017 at Usurbil station (Gipuzkoa, Basque Country) Donostian Martin Goitiandia, who was protesting against the Spanish Gag Law, was seriously injured by a train. Now the Basque police have taken him, along with the person who waited with him for the ambulance to arrive, to court. The trial will be held on 5th March in Donostia.
"We are announcing the biggest demonstration ever to be held in the Basque Country" was how last week's message began. The organisers of Gure Esku Dago presented the project in front of the Donostia Eureka! science museum. They want to link the Basque cities of Donostia, Bilbao and Gasteiz on 10th June, 2018, and they will need at least 100,000 people to do so.
Susana Uribetxeberria, Basque prisoner Xabier Ugarte Villar's wife, had an accident on 27th January. It happened at dusk after she had visited her husband in prison, and while fortunately she was not hurt, this was the first accident in 2018 caused by the dispersion policy for prisoners.
Jesus Mari Txurruka was to make his declaration at Bergara municipal court in Gipuzkoa last Saturday, the 20th of January. His grandfather's brother died in a Hamburg concentration camp in 1945; Franco's forces had killed his great-grandmother in cold blood nine years earlier at her farmstead at Elgeta in the Basque Country. But Jesus Mari is not going to make any such declaration. And nor are the other 13 victims' relatives who should have done so in January.
The murders which took place in the Otxarkoaga district of Bilbao on the 18th of January have started a debate. Karlos Renedo, a member of Otxarkoaga local association, does not agree with the point of view expressed in much of the media and by many individuals.