Spanish base workers block main gate at Rota
November 27, 2004
NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — Spanish base workers briefly blocked the main gate to the naval station on Thanksgiving day, protesting plans to cut the work force by 75 employees.
Hundreds of workers gathered near the gate around 7 a.m. and stopped traffic for an hour. The protest attracted additional police to the naval station entrance but the demonstration was peaceful.
The blockade had little effect on Americans stationed at the base because most of them had the day off for the holiday. The naval station also routinely keeps two other gates open to traffic.
Employees are planning more protests next week, Spanish workers and union representatives said Friday. However, they have not decided whether to demonstrate in Rota or Cadiz, the province’s capital.
Earlier this month, Spanish employees received news about the work force cuts from Spain’s Ministry of Defense. The U.S. government indirectly hires about 1,150 Spanish civilians through the Spanish government to work at the naval station.
The Spanish navy shares the base with 3,000 active-duty U.S. military personnel.
Base labor unions have staged numerous demonstrations and protests in the last four years demanding more take-home pay. A change in tax laws in 1999 slashed some salaries as much as 25 percent.
Employees have recently focused most of their ire on possible future work force reductions as the U.S. Navy consolidates base support services in Europe and looks for ways to save money.