Telefónica workers on hunger strike against corporate injustice

Barcelona, Spain
12th November 2012

We, five Telefónica workers have started a sine-die hunger strike on the 5th of November to protest against the injustice that the powerful transnational corporation has committed against one of its employees. The protest is supported by the two combative union organizations – Cobas and En Construcció – and the workers’ platform Sí, soy rentable.

Marcos Andrés was dismissed by Telefónica on February 2011, along with Mari Cruz, because they had been under sick leave for what the corporation considered to be too long, even when it was certified by Social Security doctors. The company sacked the workers telling them “they were not profitable”. However, in the same month, and in the midst of the crisis, the company paid out record dividend to their shareholders. Although precise shareholding structure cannot be known, certain shareholders hold stakes that may be considered significant: BBVA, La Caixa and Blackrock, Inc.

Mari Cruz dismissal was declared unfair and wrongful by the Court. Marcos dismissal was declared as null and void by the court on grounds of breach of fundamental rights, as the worker was involved in trade union activity. The company had to reinstate the workers, but Telefónica was not satisfied and appealed against the Court’s decision. The second Court declared the dismissal wrongful and unfair. However it did not find enough evidence of fundamental rights breach, and. According to the Spanish Labor laws, even if the Court declares the dismissal unfair and wrongful, they let the Company to decide about the worker’s right to be reinstated. Mari Cruz refused to keep fighting for her job. But Marcos wants to keep fighting for his rights.

Marcos’ dismissal was executed in the context of 2011 collective bargaining. The company wanted to reach an agreement with the main Trade Unions to lay off 20% of their workforce in Spain. The agreement was reached, and more than 6000 workers will leave their job to go on voluntarily early retirement. In return, the Trade Unions tried by all means to convince Telefónica to reinstate Marcos, unfairly dismissed from work after 24 years of loyal service.

Out of indignation at the unfairness shown by the corporation, we have decided to go on a hunger strike to make Telefónica reconsider its decision and reinstate Marcos. We want Telefónica to acknowledge that, we, their labor force are human beings with the corresponding human rights.

We consider Marcos’ dismissal part of Telefónica neoliberal labor strategy. Since the company was privatized in 1997, Telefónica has destroyed about 50.000 decent jobs. During the years of economic prosperity the company could have met their social responsibility and create decent jobs. However, Telefónica preferred to cut costs on workforce in order to pay generous dividends to investors. The company has created more than 100.000 precarious and poorly paid jobs through outsourcing.

With this hunger strike we want to rise up against corporate injustice. We ask you to help us break the media silence that the powerful corporation manages to impose in Spain.

Contact information:
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Twitter: @HHTelefonica


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