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Hildy Johnson, "Spanish Bank Occupied by Workers"

Spanish Bank Occupied by WorkersHildy Johnson

In the southern Spanish city of Granada today, a powerful workers demonstration has been taking place. It includes the simultaneous occupation of the offices of a local developer/estate agents and the main branch of the BBVA bank.

The Sindicat Andaluz de Trabajadores (Andalucian Workers Union) has been out in force on the streets of Granada today. This small activist union was formed in 2007 owing to disatisfaction with the representation offered by other larger trade unions. So far today city centre roads have been blocked and the offices of Osuna (major Spanish estate agent and developer) and BBVA bank have been occupied by several hundred protestors.

Of course, the focus is the assistance provided by the Spanish government to banks, developers and estate agents. This is coupled with discontent at high levels of unemployment and the difficulties faced by many in finding secure accommodation despite the massive investment in new homes- many of which are sitting empty. The end of the construction boom in Spain has brought a massive surge in unemployment as well as promises of taxpayer subsidies for those that were all too willing to talk up the boom. The workers now demand that those who have benefitted most from the good times pay back some of their superprofits to bail out thousands of families who have fallen below the poverty line.

For Andalucias workers one man who is particularly indebted to the people is Nicolas Osuna, who as well as being president of Osuna, is the biggest owner of olive tree plantations, is on the board of the Bank of Andalucia, is also a major shareholder in Iberdrola and Banco Popular as well as owning shares in Santander. In the words of leftist leader Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo the bailouts are "the politics of the economic bandits, the robbing of the poor to give the proceeds to the rich"

The occupation of the Osuna officers was ended by police at about 2pm but the protestors simply moved up the road to join their fellows at the BBVA offices which remain occupied as this is being written 7.30 pm To liven things up they decided to block a major city crossroads for about half an hour. Strangely there are few police visible and those that are seem content to allow the workers to remain inside the bank where many are smoking, eating and taking a well deserved siesta. In fact, the mood inside the Osuna offices prior to that was distinctly like that of a workers cocktail party where ham rolls were dished out from a large sack (sorry about that veggies). Now the plan is to bed down at BBVA for the night

for photos and reports in spanish

http://www.sindicaProxy-Connection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0

andaluz.org/?q=node/326 http://www.granadahoy.com/article/granada/283450/los/sindicalistas/corta... http://www.ideal.es/granada/20081119/local/granada/sanchez-gordillo-toma...

Hildy Johnson Homepage: http://www.sindicatoandaluz.org


On the scene flaneur's-eye account body:

Granada occasionally wakes up from its urge to stare at the Alhambra and fervently imagine how it might make more money. Strange that within two days the Fascists were parading around the streets (November 20, anniversary of Franco's death), students were marching and the bank was occupied. I strolled by between ten and midnight, and found the BBVA bank in the process of being occupied. I don't know how they got past the cash machine foyer and into the lobby, but about 50 people were there, inside and out, with blankets and coffee, stretching out on the chairs and floors of the bank. There were four or five cops present, pacing around with worried looks but nothing untoward happened, so far as I heard. The demonstrators stayed overnight. Their banners were on the order of "Let the bankers pay for the crisis." Andalucia has perhaps the highest rate of paros in Spain (job layoffs, dismissals, plant closings), and people are aware that the Crisis is a big one. A bearded charismatic leader lead a sit-in at Nissan headquarters week before. As always in Andalucia there are many different groups under many different left political banners, and sorry to say I didn't catch the name of this one. I shall follow up.

Between Judge Garzon's brave decision to give family members the right to dig up the mass graves from the Civil War and the current economic situation, I think we can say that Spain is heating up in mid-Winter.

Meanwhile, in local gossip, the gypsy owner of one of Granada's largest construction firms just lost his young wife. She ran off with the young manager of her husband's art gallery, and took a box of cash from the house with her. Gypsies don't like banks either!

-- Jim Graham in Granada, Spain