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Minimum wage call for Canary workers could lead to general strike 

PAGE 16 Minimum wage call for  Canary workers could lead to  strike

Two of the leading unions in the Canary Islands, the UGT and CCOO have not ruled out a general strike within the archipelago in 2018 over continuing wage demands.

Talks started in January, following on from lengthy negotiations last year which failed to reach a successful conclusion and saw a number of public protests.

Both unions say they will be pressing for wage increases and do not want to see anyone receiving an agreement which is below 1,000 euros a month with 14 payments.

The general secretaries of the two organisations in the islands, Gustavo Santana (UGT) and Inocencio Gon-zález (CCOO) said they could not rule out mobi-lisations in 2018 or a general strike.

They also stressed “time was running out” but feared the employers would be “procrastinating” again and it would be at this point that actions would begin.

“If you asked me, as a regional secretary, if the conditions were met and we embarked on that path of mobilisation and awareness, I would bet on a general strike, “said Gustavo Santana.

The unions believe em-ployers are putting off entering into agreements so “they can gain time to continue increasing their profits at the expense of not increasing wages.”

They have also expressed unhappiness at the level of the budgets for the autonomous community, describing it as “unequal, breaking the fiscal cohesion and deepen in a failed growth model based on the precariousness of employ-ment.”

” Furthermore, they will not serve to reduce the high rate of poverty suffered by the islands,” they say.

The union representatives positively assessed that the Canarian Government has managed to approve expan-sive accounts with almost 1,000 million more than the 2017, “the largest in the history of the Canary Islands.” However, they criticised that this effort has not materialiaed in the allocation of more funds for the “social problems” of the Islands.

Sr. Gonzalez said that in the Canary Islands there are 40,000 families at risk of social exclusion and that wages are the lowest in the country – 11.77 euros per hour worked compared to 14.83 euros for the national average.

The essential public services this year have 437 million more than in the accounts of 2017, of which 100 are destined to Employment and Social Policies. “It is absolutely insufficient,” he said.

Sr. Santana stressed that the tax reduction that accom-panies budgets does not benefit the lowest incomes. He said Canary residents were worse off and have lower salaries, prioritise their expenses and do not invest, for example, in the purchase of a home.

The unions stressed that the economic recovery is not reaching the working class despite the fact that the GDP of the Islands grew 3.3% in 2017. For unemployment to register a decrease of 15,000 unemployed it was necessary, according to Sr. González, to have the creation of 850,000 contracts.

The unionist also explained that 90 per cent of the contracts signed are temporary and ten per cent are indefinite