Spanish base workers at Rota again rally against proposed job cuts
NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — For the second time in less than a week, Spanish base workers blocked Naval Station Rota’s main gate to morning traffic Tuesday.
Workers were protesting potential job cuts by the U.S. military. Employees claim that as many as 75 jobs could be lost as the U.S. Navy tries to find ways to be more efficient and save money at installations throughout Europe.
“We consider that unacceptable,” union leader Miguel Garcia said of the potential job cuts.
Unions representing the base’s 1,150 civilian Spanish workers are in the midst of negotiations with the Spanish Ministry of Defense and the U.S. Navy over a new labor agreement. Earlier in the month, union leaders said the Spanish Ministry of Defense told them about plans to cut the work force. Employees voted last Wednesday to publicly voice their discontent.
The U.S. Navy said Tuesday that it has not determined if any Spanish jobs would be cut.
“The United States Navy has not presented the Spanish Ministry of Defense with any specific plan or number for reduction in number of Spanish employees,” base spokeswoman Lt. Allie Freeman said in a statement to Stars and Stripes.
Several hundred workers arrived at the gate around 7 a.m. and stood under a cool drizzle for about two hours. Many wore stickers that read, “No a los despidos,” which means “No to the dismissals.”
Rota police diverted traffic away from the gate, and base officials opened up a fourth gate to ease early-morning traffic in and out of the naval station.
The base radio station instructed Americans trying to enter the base to avoid the demonstration and pass through one of the other gates.
Unless employees see improvements during negotiations, union leaders said they would continue to hold similar protests. However, they did not give any details.
“We will continue,” Garcia said. “We will fight.”
Workers last demonstrated on Thanksgiving, briefly blocking the same gate to traffic. Spanish workers have held numerous protests and demonstrations over pay issues in the last four years.