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actions & protests | labor

Spain: Barcelona bus strike shuts down the city

BUS drivers in Barcelona have called a second strike for 2-4 January, demanding a five day working week, after a walk-out from 21-24 December drew widespread support, wrong-footing both company chiefs and the police.
Bus drivers march
Bus drivers march
The union claim up to 80% of drivers downed tools, though this figure is disputed by transport company TMB (Metropolitan Transport of Barcelona).

Currently, bus drivers have to work six days a week. Workers with the anarcho-syndicalist union Confederacion General de Trabajo (CGT) agreed to go on strike to press their demands against owner TMB, allowing only minimum services needed to connect neighbourhoods without other transportation options.

The CGT linked with squatters and direct action anarchists to ensure that scabs would not be permitted to keep the buses running. While CGT workers picketed all the bus depots, anarchists, independentistas, and squatters throughout the city took action against buses operated by scabs, splashing paint on the windshields, breaking the rear-view mirrors, or puncturing the tires, so that buses had to return to the station.

Although in the morning a large number of buses were in the streets, around midday hardly any buses were passing by even on major streets. Around 54 buses driven by scabs were attacked and sabotaged the first day, with tires punctured, rear-view mirrors broken, or windshields splashed with paint, rendering them immobile. One bus was even forcibly evicted by a rowdy crowd of strike supporters.

The city of Barcelona possesses only two cranes capable of hauling decommissioned buses, and the day's attacks went far beyond their capacity. Additionally, bus stations all throughout the city were spray painted with stencils urging solidarity with the strikers, although a large number of people were complaining about the inconvenience and calling for various forms of repression against strikers and direct actionists.

Mainstream newspapers have claimed that someone was injured by one sabotage action, though this has yet to be verified by independent sources. Previously, the bus workers had built connections with squatters, sending a letter of support to the ten-year-old squatted social centre Can Vies, which is on property owned by TMB.

A similar struggle was waged by CGT on the metro in 2005, of short work stoppages. In that case the government was proposing to eliminate the earlier retirement of transit workers, forcing them to work longer.

Adapted from a thread on libcom.org

Rob Ray
Homepage:  http://libcom.org/forums/news/bus-drivers-strike-barcelona-23122007