IFSW expressed full support and solidarity with Consejo General del Trabajo (the Spanish Council of Social Workers) by joining them in their campaign against austerity at the European Parliament held today on the International Day of Human Rights.
Consejo General del Trabajo, along with families that use social work services, and politicians travelled together to Brussels to add their voices against the horrific affects that austerity has upon people and society. Speaking at the European Parliament they provided firsthand accounts of how austerity undermines basic human rights.
Since austerity was introduced Spain has tumbled into enormous social and economic problems with unemployment levels increasing daily over 35% and youth unemployment over 50%. Family evictions from their homes; cuts to electrical and power services, the closure of medical and social services, occur across all the communities of Spain. The human costs are nothing less than tragic. A new phenomena of middle aged men committing suicide has developed, as the men feel unable to provide for their families. It is now commonplace to see families living on the street without dignity and hope.
IFSW represents social workers practitioners globally and has learnt what policies enable people and societies to rise with confidence and sustainability, and what policies drive peoples and economies into a spiral of desperation. There is now mounting evidence demonstrating that investing in people and social services builds better economies. Researchers from Oxford and Stanford Universities have shown that for every dollar spent on social services there is a three-dollar return to the economy, and importantly people live happily and more securely knowing that their society cares.
Mr J. Andres Lopez Herrero whose family relies on the dwindling social work services accompanied his social worker to the meeting – he said, “We are waiting, waiting, and waiting and we are seeing that there is not any interest in solving anything. I would like to see the governor of my region live only one month with the budget that I have, only one month to know if she can survive”.
Ana Isabel Lima Fernandez, President of the Consejo General del Trabajo said, “We are here because we have applied the five indicators of United Nations to detect vulnerability of Human Rights and we need to denounce the breaching of human basic rights we live in Spain. We ask the European Parliament to make effective the international laws and rules such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Dr Rory Truell, IFSW Secretary-General said, “Austerity equals the abuse of human rights. We applaud the Consejo General del Trabajo for bringing together people who use social work services, along with social workers and politicians to highlight the problems in Brussels. Austerity is a flawed theory that is forced upon poor countries by wealthy institutions. USA in its financial crisis responded with economic stimulus packages – while Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and other countries are forced to cut services. There seems to be one approach for the powerful nations and another approach for non-powerful. This campaign is an inspiring example of social work and community action. It gives people a place to stand with others, a place to voice their anger, and it gives hope for their futures”, he said.
IFSW Global President, Ruth Stark said, “Human rights are achieved when all people experience dignity and respect from their fellow citizens, including the people who have been elected by them to take on roles of governance of their societies. Listening to the people that use social work services makes it clear that the European Parliament must take immediate action now”.