Comisiones Obreras, one of Spain’s main unions, has condemned the “provocations and aggression” experienced by a number of people caught up in the border protest last week.
In a statement issued by its branch in the Campo de Gibraltar, CCOO said the ugly scenes on the Spanish side of the border had nothing to do with the underlying reason for the protest, which was organised by a group called Jusapol to champion parity for Spanish police and Guardia Civil officers with their better-paid regional counterparts.
The demonstration, which was supported by a hefty contingent from the far right party Vox, flared into scuffles after some protestors blocked traffic flow and targeted a number of Gibraltarians crossing the border with verbal and physical provocation.
“Any group is free to organise whatever protests they feel are necessary and in whatever place they think is appropriate, but there is no justification for these to turn into expressions of xenophobia against people who have nothing to do with claims underlying the demonstration,” CCOO said in a statement.
“CCOO condemns the aggression faced by one female citizen and the provocations that many others endured.”
The Spanish union said it had contacted Unite the Union in Gibraltar to express its solidarity and to underline its commitment to continue working to ensure good relations between communities on either side of the border.
CCOO added that it had long been fighting for better pay and conditions for Policia Nacional and Guardia Civil officers, adding that incidents such as last week’s should not be allowed to damage either cross-border relations or the legitimate claims made by Spanish law enforcement officers.
The statement by CCOO was greeted positively in Gibraltar by Unite the Union, which also welcomed an earlier statement last Friday by the Spanish Government’s representative in the province of Cádiz, José Pacheco, Mr Pacheco apologised to citizens caught up in last week’s incidents and said some protestors had breached restrictions set on the demo.
In a statement, Unite said: “This kind of behaviour represents a direct threat to democracy and that Unite the Union will oppose racism and all forms of prejudice wherever they arise.”
The union again called on the Spanish Government to full investigate the events that transpired last week to take any disciplinary action necessary.
Against the backdrop of Brexit uncertainty, Unite added that it remained “fully committed” to cross-frontier cooperation with local and Spanish colleagues to strengthen existing good neighbourly relations.
The union also used the statement to express surprise that other local unions and business organisations had not strongly condemned the events last week.
“We are surprised at our local unions’ lukewarm approach towards this incident,” Unite said.
“As unions they should be fully aware of the threat of fascism and the awakening of the far right in Europe.”
“This type of incident at the frontier must be exposed for what it is and without any hesitation, right wing, racist and nationalistic.”
“Unite the Union must highlight the inconsistency shown by business representatives in Gibraltar, who recently saw fit to criticise Unite the Union’s Borders & Coastguards’ legitimate dispute, but have yet failed to apply the same criteria to the behaviour of Spanish right wing nationalists and some off-duty police officers who also interrupted the frontier flow.”
“Yet some of these participants harassed, assaulted and humiliated ordinary citizens.”
Archive image of the border between Spain and Gibraltar.