More than 1,300 Spanish social workers came together in Marbella, Spain on 14 – 16 November 2013 for the national social work congress of the Consejo General del Trabajo Social (CGTS) (the Spanish social workers council and IFSW/FITS member).
The conference theme was ‘Social Intervention in Troubled Times: We Know, We Can, We Demand’. There were a mass of plenary sessions and workshops which explored the impact on Spanish society of the European financial crisis, the dramatic increase in unemployment (especially of young people) and the big cuts in social services.
Consejo launched a campaign against the cuts in 2012 which they called ‘the Orange Wave’. The colour orange became their campaign banner and many social workers in the conference wore the special orange tee-shirts or other orange clothing. There were ‘happenings’ during the refreshment breaks which highlighted the campaign and brought the participants together. The final morning break of the conference presented a dance by social workers who gradually removed their shirts and sweaters to reveal orange tee-shirts. They then brought out very long pieces of orange cloth which were used to create a link between participants and involve everybody in the ‘orange wave’.
Former IFSW President David N Jones was present for this happening: ‘Consejo is clearly creative, powerful and well organised’, he commented . ‘The campaign materials are well designed and give a clear message. Consejo has organised demonstrations around the country over the period of the austerity cuts and it is clear that their members are enthused by the campaign and participate with commitment and energy. I was impressed’, David Jones concluded.
The final plenary session of the congress was entitled ‘La mundialización en clave de trabajo social: exigencia, propuesta y acción en red’ – ‘Globalization the key to social work: requirements, proposals and action through networking’ Speakers included Ana I Lima (President of Consejo), Ian Johnston (IFSW Europe Executive member) and David N Jones (IFSW representative on The Global Agenda for Social Work) with a live video link to Nicaragua with Iris Prado Hernandez (Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Communication) and Martha Palacios Navarrete (Director of the School of Social Sciences, both from the University of Central America in Nicaragua). The plenary was chaired by Juan Gutierrez Curras (Spokesperson of the Governing Board of Consejo). The plenary concluded with a video contribution from IFSW President Gary Bailey.
Presentations by the IFSW speakers and more photos from the conference will be posted on the IFSW website in the next few days.
Visit the conference website for reports of the event.
Visit the Consejo website
Read El Observador press report