ONE OF Spain's longest running industrial disputes has ended in victory for the workers. Telephone engineers celebrated in the centre of Madrid last weekend after their fight forced the country's Tory government to concede most of their demands.
Over 1,000 of the engineers had been camped out in the heart of Madrid's business district for over six months after being made redundant. The workers set up a pavement shanty town and used their skills to connect up the huts they lived in to electricity and water supplies.
Their Sintel company was privatised five years ago by the state owned Telefonica phone company. It was sold to a US company, which then laid off the entire 1,800 workforce last December.
The workers' resistance became a celebrated cause for workers across Spain and finally the government was forced to intervene. The workers will get 11 months back pay. Some have been promised new jobs, and older workers will be allowed to draw a full pension early. 'We have shown that the small man can beat the giant,' said workers' spokesman, José Antonio Vaquero. 'One thing is for sure,' said another worker, Aniceto Diaz, as the workers celebrated victory. 'We are all better people than when we arrived here.'