May Day marches turn into peace demonstrations
2 May 2006
MADRID — The annual May Day celebrations were turned into peace demonstrations across the country in the wake of the cease-fire declared by the Basque terrorist group ETA.
With a theme ‘For Peace. Stable and fair employment’, thousands called for an end to violence and honoured the more than 800 people killed in attacks by ETA over the past 38 years.
Jose Maria Fidalgo, secretary-general of the Communist CCOO union, spoke about the “especially” festive nature of this year’s holiday given that workers can at last see “the end of the terror” after ETA “possibly” surrendered to the “evidence” that it was not going to “impose its designs with violence”.
For the first time, ETA declared a permanent ceasefire on 22 March.
Before it has declared ‘indefinite ceasefires’ but has returned to violence ten times.
ETA, an acronym for the Basque language words for Homeland and Freedom, took up arms in 1968, to fight for a Basque nation comprising parts of northern Spain and southern France.
The terrorist group, which began its violence when Spain was governed by the rightist dictatorship of Francisco Franco, has used car bombs or shot military or police personnel, as well as politicians, journalists and government officials and civilians.
Fidalgo spoke with reporters before the march staged in Madrid by the CCOO and the UGT, Spain’s other main unions.
He said ETA got the message “loud and clear” in favour of peace sent by workers, victims of terror, the political parties and Spanish society.
“We believe that the strong expectations for peace in our country allow us to expect a final end to the violence,” UGT secretary-general Candido Mendez said.
The Basque union LAB, which is loosely-linked to the political programme espoused by ETA, organized a march in Pamplona.
LAB secretary-general, Rafa Diez, alluded to the importance of the ceasefire declared by the group because “it could allow this country to build the conditions for dialogue, negotiations and agreement”.
About 1,000 people took part in the march, at the end of which Diez said that “peace should be synonymous with democracy and respect for the will of the Basque citizenry”.
The government, unions and employers are working on the text of a reform package, which could be ready at the end of this week and might be signed in the second week of May.
It would give companies incentives to increase the number of fixed rather than short-term contracts and demand a higher productivity from workers in return.
Mendez said the demand for stable employment with fair working conditions should be the main goal of labour policy and the new agreement “could be a good tool for reducing job insecurity and workplace accidents” in Spain.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news