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Politics, Spain

Exploited Telefonica workers find ally in radical Barcelona mayor

Barcelona’s new radical mayor-elect has signalled her determination to secure a fair deal for exploited Telefonica-Movistar workers by threatening to curtail the company’s contract with the City to put pressure the company in its labour dispute.

Outgoing mayor Xavier Triasa aimed to prolong the contract between the operator and the City Council for another year until July 2016, but that is now in the balance.

Ada Colau’s number two, Gerardo Pisarello, has announced he’s calling in the directors of the company to “make it clear that the rights of workers must be respected.”

The subcontracted technicians and installers of the multinational telecommunications company have been in a long struggle for better pay and conditions – they earn as little as 700 euros per month, working up to ten, twelve and fourteen hours per day, and without a single day’s rest.

Within a week of Ada Colau’s election to the mayor’s office following municipal elections on May 24, the new mayor — sporting the distinctive aqua-blue uniform of the strikers — visited the Telefonica HQ in Barcelona which the workers have been occupying.

She offered to act as a mediator in the labour dispute, writing in their visitors’ book a salute to the workers who “have defended the rights of all workers” and who are working help bring about a Barcelona where “fundamental rights will never again be weakened.”

The  judiciary has just ordered the eviction of the strikers from the building. The an order has been characterised by the new mayor as unhelpful and illegitimate, arguing  on her Twitter account that “these are legitimate labour demands which cannot be solved through evictions,” She instead insisted that the ball is in Movistar’s court, who, she argued, must at least come to the negotiating table.

The workers have been a two-month  ‘indefinite strike’ . They have said that they will continue to strike until their basic conditions for an agreement have been met, and those include an eight-hour day, forty-hour week, employer payment of working gear and protection, and for a dignified ‘social’ salary which can support their families, together with four weeks’ holidays to enjoy time away from work.

Ada Colau, a longtime anti-eviction activist and active member of the Indignados, or 15-M Movement, was projected to the wealthy Spanish city’s number one political job last month on the radical left platform Barcelona en Comú (Barcelona in Common) backed by upstart Podemos and the more established Izquierda Unida, among others.

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope

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