Friday, March 26, 2004

Encouraging Basque

Today at Berria English:

ELA and LAB unions launch campaign to encourage Basque in companies

A clause calling for “practical steps” will be added in this year’s collective bargaining

Jakes Goikoetxea – DONOSTIA (San Sebastian)
“It’s high time Basque was introduced into the work sphere and companies”. “The situation of Basque in these areas is on red alert”. These were the messages transmitted yesterday by the ELA and LAB unions. Basque has made progress in many other areas and now it is the turn of work and companies. A campaign has been launched for this purpose: It’s High Time. In Basque, in Companies, a Good Investment . Jabi Garnika, member of the LAB executive committee, stressed: “It is not, however, a campaign for appearing in the photos.” It is based on stark reality. “There is a chasm between the linguistic reality of society and the presence Basque has in the field of work and companies.” Garnika provided figures: less than a hundred out of the 2,600 companies employing over 50 people have implemented a normalisation plan for Basque.

They want Basque to take a qualitative leap forward in the sphere of work and companies and this is why ELA and LAB have announced their commitment to this. Jose Elorrieta, the ELA General Secretary, said: “We are Basque nationalist unions and the normalisation of Basque is one of our concerns. We have supported many initiatives by citizens, but the time has come as a social agent to make active commitments and to encourage the normalisation of Basque,” added Rafa Diez, General Secretary of LAB.

ELA and LAB plan to draw attention to the importance of Basque in their collective bargaining and in their sector agreements: they have made a commitment in this year’s collective bargaining for demands relating to Basque to be included in sector agreements and company agreements. A special clause on Basque will be added calling for “practical steps” in favour of the normalisation of Basque.

“The commitment that may be included in the sector agreements is fairly general,” admitted Leire Txakartegi, member of the ELA executive committee. But she added that the unions wanted to go further: “We want to encourage plans and steps for the normalisation of Basque in companies, so as to gradually change the reality of Basque in these areas.”

ELA and LAB have called on management and workers to adopt an active, effective attitude in favour of the normalisation of Basque, “to turn the woeful situation of Basque in the sphere of work and companies around.” Elorrieta said, “Basque will not achieve normalisation in companies without the commitment or approval of the workers.”

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