Page 7, 30th November 1962

30th November 1962
Page 7
Page 7, 30th November 1962 — A future for Spanish workers
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Locations: Seville, Malaga, Cordoba, Madrid

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A future for Spanish workers

Continued from previous page

ployment calling for absorption by a range of new light industries in Juxtaposition to the new rural "colonies". Throughout Spain, it will be essential, over the next 10 years, to create 900.000 new jobs. and a further 1,335.000 to replace existing jobs with diminishing returns.

Apart from the thriving iron and steel, mining, motor car and light industries of the north, there have been monumental developments in irrigation, reafforestatir n and railways in various parts of the country. There are plans to create a new industrial complex by building a Seville-Bonanza canal. A pipeline from Malaga is to develop the Puertollano petrochemical industries to the point of establishing a state refinery on the lines of our own at Fawley.

In Corunna. Ohio Oil has completed the first half of a refinery project intended to Yield 1.400.000.000 tons a year. There is the 18.000.000 dollar ammonia plant at Malaga, the Land Rover plant at Jaen. and tourism last year brought 8.000,000 visitors to Spain.

The state is to build a prototype atomic power plant, and three companies also -have plans for plants of their own.

The optimistic World Bank report clearly implies that the miracles worked for Germany, Italy and Japan in the 'fifties may hit Spain in the 'sixties. given a final renunciation of the Crippsian system of controls that heavily over-concentrated on the public sector of Spanish industry after the wars, At one time, as many as 1,600 quite separate public bodies accounted for half the country's fixed investment, and the range of concessionary prices and interest rates operating between state enterprises made confusion worse confounded.

A disinflationary stabilisation programme, which hit the inefficient industries hardest, has now checked price inflation, made an honest woman of the peseta by devaluation, and has yanked the balance of payments into the black.

New towns

If this goes on, and the whole range of price, import and export, and investment controls is scaled right down. the World Bank foresees, over the next decade, an annual economic growth of five per cent per capita. Over the 10 year period. this would mean a doubling of incomes in the sectors of industry and services.

A more liberal economy will inevitably have political repercussions. 'this is symbolised by the resurgence of the Chambers of Commerce, now about to elect 1.000 officials for the first time since the Civil War.

No government nominees have been put up, and this opens the way for the Chambers to become one of those "pressure groups" which. in the future, will offer real opportunities for the ordinary citizen to bring his weight to bear on national policy (see last week's issue). Not only do the Chambers of Commerce represent the business man's interests: they also have endless possibilities as advisers to the government.

It is, unfortunately, true that the wealthy Spaniard has not. for the most part, a highly developed social conscience. Whether in industry or agriculture, he resists wage increases and improvements in the workers' status. though there is, of course, an exceptional minority genuinely conscious of the social encyclicals.

The government is not allowing the "haves" to get away with it. I talked to the Director of Finance, Senor Altozano, an Opus Dei member, who tia5 designed a new tax law to remove the burden of local (as opposed to national) taxation from the people's backs, with a view to spreading the overall burden more fairly throughout the entire community.

Similar trends are at work in the measures taken to inject new life into the under-developed agricultural areas. This has been done primarily by the creation of 200 small risv towns, or colonies, which have already rescued nearly 50.000 families from squalid poverty.

First, land is acquired. This in volves requisitioning portions of land from the larger estates, for which compensation is paid to the owners. On this land, vast irrigation schemes bring water by way of Ministry of Works canals. The Institute then diverts the flow to local plots.

Then, small towns are built as a social complex. with churches, schools, clinics and welfare centres, to ensure a real, living corn• munny. Famines are given plots of land, tools and equipment to work them, technical advice and supervision.

By the end of last year, 417.442 hectares had been acquired. and 46,906 families settled. Moreover, the stringent conditions required of a larger landowner whe wants to hold on to his property have affected the conditions of a further 34.000 families.

An allotted plot belongs to the settler after five years, and he pays for it through a system of partnership with the Institute, Full payment is extended, through :a mortgage system, over 30 years, The most impressive of these development plans is operating in the Reclaim province. where irrigation works have diverted the flow of the Guadiana River.

Three huge dams have been built and two more are on the way. The hydro-electric system and the complex system of canals already eerves a couple of doren

colonies. each with a two-mile radius, with 5.000 families working on plots of four to five heetare each.

Plots are worked by the entire family. but increasing mechanisation calls for the establishment of new industries in the colonised areas to absoib the total labour force.

There are some in production .already, and these include factories for processing cotton, fodder plants, milk processing plants, and plans are afoot for developing

area.cenient and steel plants in the

Trade schools

Some of the. most striking welfare services in Spain are provided by the Syndicates, which, in addition to running 24 labour unions. have five great labour univereitics — at Gijon. Cordoba, Seville. Tarragona and Zamora — and many training schools, centres for teaching industrial skills to adults from the countryside. and an experimental farm. Their main educational establishments ca ter for 60.000 pupils in 240 schools.

I visited a school in Madrid where 300 men, in their twenties, thirties and even forties, were learning new trades. Most were drawn from rural areas where they had no chance of a really decent life. All would become sufficiently skilled. within a few months, to apply for jobs in industry.

I then saw a trade school for youths which offered a blueprint for solving our secondary modern problem here. not to mention the apprenticeship problems I have so often dealt with in my industrial column.

There were 2.500 non-academic ,boys from the ages of 14-18. I saw hundreds of lathes, linotype machines. radio control panels, second-hand cars for pulling to pieces, woodwork and plastering rooms. The young headmaster told me that the teaching is entirely in laymen's hands. Technical training is reserved for the morning. general ennui:al education for the afternoon.

The Syndicates boast as many as 400.000 elected posts. and the workers are alive enough to yield a 60 per cent ballot when voting it due.

Nearly 2,000 collective wage agreements have been settled, and 598 are under negotiation. This all covers 3.211,769 workers in 534.318 enterprises. In 1960, 61.836 "acts of conciliation" were recorded as settled, and 27,475 as unsettled. Some 30.000 members of the Syndicates 24 unions hold responsible post in municipal government and the running of the country's welfare systems.

The unions are organised, not on the basis of one exclusive trade per union, but according to the predominating skills in the various areas of the country. No danger here of the 22-union set-up at Dagenham, in which the workers' conflicting interests tend to cancel each other out and reduce effective negotiation to a minimum.

But the Syndicates are also building 50.000 workers' flats a year and the aim is to push this up to 100.000. This is quite separate from the dwellings put up by municipalities, the Ministry of Housing, and the Church. They are built with an eye to social and aesthetic requirements, and are far more attractive than our municipal housing in Britain.

Welfare

By the end of last year, 141,326 had been built, and 52,569 were under construction. Another 150.000 were in prospect. The lowest grade of flat for the unskilled worker costs him about 10 per cent of his monthly income (an average, therefore, of little over £1).

There are many co-operatives catering for 2.306.090 people. agricultural, consumer, industrial and fishing, and also credit unions.

Welfare services for the vast majority of the people are catered for by the National Welfare Institute and the Workers' Mutual Aid. Benefits of these two set-ups are mainly complementary, though the Institute's old age and disability payments are reduced if the memhers also derive benefits from the Mutual Aid.

The Institute pays 60 per cent of a man's salary for half a year in case of illness and supplies him with health service. It pays family allowances and old age pensions. Workmen's compensation pays according to a scale which can reach 150 per cent of a man's salary plus his full family allotivances. Unemployment benefit is 75 per cent. Annuities for dependants ranize from 40 to 60 per cent. The employers' contribution, is, in some cases. three and even four times that of the worker.

Under the Mutual Aid scheme, the proportion of employer's to worker's contributions is two to one. Retirement pensions vary from 40 per cent of the man's salary to 90 per cent (accnrding to his age). There are benefits for incapacity, widowhood, for orphans, and for training. Grants are payable on 'births. marriages and deaths, Credits up to about £300 are available for buying houses or starting businesses.

There are 6.000 voting members on the governing bodies. which are run jointly in the proportions of three workers to one employer.

Finally. in assessing the growth of the Spanish social order. it is not without significance that illiteracy, which was as high as 30 per cent at the end of the civil war, has now been reduced to only seven per cent.

NEXT WEEK: The Church; the Protestants; the future,




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