WHERE are the trade unions when you need them? Does the labour movement become completely redundant during a recession? Over the last two years millions of people have been made redundant in Spain, some without the necessary redundancy payments and others have been dismissed on the spot. As a result of the economic crisis some workers are being paid late or not at all. But I haven´t seen any clear evidence of union power.
The labour movement has a golden opportunity to ensure that the rights of workers are not violated even in times of recession. Now, I don´t think Spain has an appetite at the moment for a lengthy labour dispute or a general strike but workers must feel that they have some protection. The last general strike took place in Spain just after a major round of spending cuts two years ago. Since then unemployment has risen and so have taxes. Probably the financial burden of workers has never been so high. But not a word from the big trade unions. So have they lost their stomach for a fight or do they realise that there is little point in calling for industrial action because it will fall on deaf ears? Has this bitter recession made unions irrelevant? It appears so. This is a great shame. I am no fan of the trade unions but I do believe they have an important role to play. People are worried about their jobs and welfare but unfortunately the people who are meant to defend them have disappeared.