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(en) Slovakia, priama akcia: When is the dispute successful? Consideration of ending the CNT-AIT dispute with WebHelp and Norwegian Air Shuttle [machine translation]

Date Fri, 7 Aug 2020 09:10:43 +0300

It happens that people evaluate disputes on the basis of compliance. However, such a view is, in our view, too strict and does not take into account the dynamics of the struggle and capitalist relations themselves. Using the example of the recent CNT-AIT dispute in Cartagena, Spain, we would like to clarify our view on this subject. The dispute lasted from early April to mid-May. It involved the re-employment of a Carmen worker and resulted in an international solidarity campaign, in which we also participated during the pandemic in the form of protest e-mails. According to the CNT-AIT in Cartagena, the dispute was successful even though Carmen was not re-employed. So let's try to think about it briefly.
Requirement - re-employment
We described the background of the dispute and the request in the article " Call for help - supporting Carmen in her fight for re-employment " . In short, Carmen worked on a project for the Norwegian Air Shuttle at WebHelp in Malaga. She took unpaid leave in February, but her personal situation changed quickly, so she asked to return to work. The company confirmed that it would comply, but shortly thereafter began to ignore it. The CNT-AIT, of which Carmen is a member, therefore entered into the dispute.

The meaning of the international campaign

Thanks to the pressure of an international solidarity campaign involving several sections of the International Workers' Association (MAP www.iwa-ait.org), WebHelp suddenly began to communicate promptly and solve the problem. Later, the company even offered Carmen a position in Barcelona, although in reality it was a job for another company and our friend would lose her seniority, which she refused to accept.

Mass redundancies

The coronacrisis subsequently affected the development of the dispute more significantly. Norwegian canceled projects in Spain and other European countries, which meant the loss of an important client for WebHelp and eventually proceeded to release most of the people. And he also closed offices in Malaga and Alicante.

How to define a successful dispute

However, according to the CNT-AIT, this was a successful dispute and Carmen and the local organization in Cartagena were very grateful for their help. We wondered what their reasons for such an assessment were. According to the CNT-AIT, there are several:

* Through pressure activities, they were able to force the company to listen to Carmen's demands, even during her unpaid leave.

* Compared to her colleagues, she was in a better position due to the dispute and also received an alternative offer (although she rejected it).

* At the time of the dispute, Carmen was in a predicament because she was stuck in a legal problem concerning entitlement to unemployment benefit. Although this is not a direct positive effect of the protests during the dispute, Carmen was regularly fired after the closure of WebHelp's offices and will be entitled to unemployment benefit plus she will receive compensation in the amount of 20 working days for each year she has worked for the company. We understand that, at the time of the corona crisis in Spain, such a development can also be considered good news.

* Carmen called on some of the colleagues and inquired about the dispute. They regretted that they had not been able to organize before the crisis.

* The dispute kicked Carmen and the local CNT-AIT in Cartagena into further action. The dispute did not end in disillusionment with the failure to meet the direct request, but strengthened the individuals and the organization into another fight.

How would you rate such a dispute? From our point of view, it was achieved mainly that the subject in the fight itself (Carmen and the Union) came out of the dispute stronger. It is also obvious that only at the moment when the organization became involved in the dispute (and an international campaign was launched), the company began to react and came up with suggestions on how to resolve the situation. Although Carmen did not comply and rejected them, it was clear that the company did not invent these proposals just to get rid of Carmen by any stupidity. All these facts clearly prove the meaning of organizing and fighting.

At the same time, they prove that such a struggle strikes the limits of capitalist relations. Does it make sense to fight for something when one crisis is enough and we lose our jobs? Does it make sense in such a system to really think about social change and the struggle for a non-capitalist society without the existence of a state? As an anarcho-syndicalist organization, we are interested in these issues, because the seemingly economic struggle always has a political dimension. Therefore, it should not be just a matter of constantly repeating the struggle for improvement, but of replacing capitalist society with another society in which we will not have to constantly solve the basic problems of living and survival.

There are various situations that prevent us from achieving our specific requirements. Given the existing balance of power, we really can't influence some things. However, this does not necessarily mean that there is no room to fight and organize. This does not mean that we cannot achieve anything at all. Organizing is full of fluctuations, obvious successes and losses. However, if the struggle strengthens us, it is difficult to talk about complete defeat. We will constantly come across the boundaries of our human and objective capacities. However, it is important that each fight prepares us better for the others.

However, it is not even a matter of making absurd demands and then claiming that, although we did not achieve them, it was an interesting adventure that taught us a lot and we continue to enthusiastically. Our demands should always be achievable, and this is how we approach them in the disputes we have. In our case, too, Carmen was an achievable request, and although Carmen failed, neither she nor the local CNT-AIT group lost. In our opinion, the loss looks different.

Involvement in disputes

Carmen's dispute is also an example of the importance of engaging in disputes. Our friends from Cartagena put it nicely in the original article:

Honestly, we have no words to express how grateful we are for all your cooperation and support. The wave of messages, comments and emails is amazing! At national and international level!
All support, all actions against the company paid off. Just 24 hours after the start of the campaign, the company contacted us and expressed a good will to correct this problem, which once again confirms that the direct actions WORK!
Once again, a million thanks to the whole CNT-AIT Cartagena for supporting Carmen, you have all shown that we can be proud to be part of the MAP.

We also want to thank the people in Slovakia for sending protest e-mails. It always means a lot to us and, as you can see, this form of solidarity really helps.

Union Direct Actio

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The Christmas holidays may be over, but your rights are valid all year round!

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