Galicia – Spain: Slavery 2.0.

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Fighting false cooperatives and false self-employement: the labour inspection obliges company Servicarne to register 5000 self-employed workers to the social security system.

By Xosé Luís Rivera Jácome (CIG)

The Confederación Intersindical Galega (CIG) has been on the trail for years of false cooperatives in the meat industry and other emerging labour sectors (such as the Riders and some transport workers or workers in the textile industry), which base their business on the exploitation of thousands of workers. A phenomenon that we call "slavery 2.0", because they suffer from working conditions more typical of the nineteenth century: no fixed hours with wild work rhythms, without receiving breaks, with strict sanctions, without the right to leave, without being able to enjoy paid leave, etc..

Finally, after more than one hundred denunciations presented by our organization in the Labour Inspection and in the Court (for fraud in hiring), the Labour Authority ends up issuing a Resolution that obliges SERVICARNE to register to social security 5000 self-employed workers (false self-employed workers) in whole Spain, more than 1000 in Galicia.

In an unprecedented decision, the Special Directorate of Labour Inspection, based in Madrid, has just informed SERVICARNE of this resolution. This will force the companies to which the cooperative gives workers to have to incorporate them to their staff as employees and with all the rights that have the rest of workers, summoning some of them, as is the case of FRIGOLOURO, COREN group (one of the largest producers and exporters of the food sector in Galicia), to implement it before last November. All personnel affected by the Resolution may also claim with retroactive effect the quotas that have been paid as self-employed for four years.

The Special Directorate of the Labour Authority that coordinated the Labour Inspections of the Spanish provinces with the presence of SERVICARNE also contemplates the administrative disqualification of false cooperatives, and it is very probable that it will be sanctioned for fraud in contracting, although we predict a long process that will surely reach the Supreme Court.

It was a long process, and in which the mobilization and resistance of all the personnel was fundamental to achieve this victory. Since 2016, when we began with the first workers’ assemblies, until now, the struggle was constant, not only in the labor and judicial instances, but also in the street. The first strike, of indefinite character, and supported by more than 80% of the personnel, took place on March 17, 2016. It was followed by other types of mobilizations, demands and intermediation with the Galician government, reprisals and dismissals of personnel for participating in the strike (which, naturally, made their readmission included among the demands), support from local corporations, demonstrations, rallies... and later struggle against COGAL and SERVICARNE for the pressures that, once the Resolution was known, they exerted against their false self-employed, so that they asked for a reduction in the general Social Security regime.

With the development and resolution of this conflict, we just want to give an example that serves to make an appeal to the entire working class to face abuses of capital, through fraudulent companies, which subject their staff to abusive working conditions and exploitation, and to fight on all fronts for the defense of their rights. The Social Dialogue that is so much talked about today cannot be an end in itself, but a mere instrument in which each party must put its weapons on the table. Companies have the capital, we have the workforce, without which they cannot carry out their objectives.

We have in front of us a future (already present) where they are trying to install that badly called "collaborative economy" which, disguised in the excuse of technological advances (which, in any case, should improve our living conditions), try to take advantage of the conjuncture to break any framework of labor relations and be based on individual relations with each worker and, thus, have a free track to exploit a staff without rights and scarce organizational capacity as a collective. That is why we value very positively ALTER SUMMIT’s initiative to hold this meeting of RIDERS from all over Europe in Brussels last October, and we are interested in continuing to participate.