Just in: Spanish orch goes on strike. Govt says it will be shut down

Musicians of the Filarmonica de Gran Canarias voted today to strike, starting immediately. The vote was overwhelming: 68-14.

The Consejero de Cultura has said the orchestra will be down if the musicians walk out.

The CCOO union is refusing to back the musicians.

Total chaos.

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  • The CCOO has refused to support the orchestra’s strike because the orchestra committee is demanding that the Concertmaster’s daughter, hired as a per-service tutti violin, did not complete an audition process to their satisfaction.

    Concertmaster Mariana Abacioaic, accompanied by her lawyer and supporters, has accused the orchestra committee of harassment, stating that the actions against her daughter are retaliatory, the culmination of a long-standing discord between her and the committee. Per service, or contract players are commonly hired in Spanish orchestras via unofficial procedures. The daughter’s hiring is hardly unusual or unorthodox, so this does, indeed, sound like the committee’s personal vendetta.

    Other musicians in the orchestra have verified Ms. Abacioaic’s claim, coming forward to state that they, too have been bullied, harassed and even insulted by members of the committee for not supporting their decisions on various occasions. Here is the article:

    http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/sociedad/Musicos-Orquesta-Filarmonica-Gran-Canaria_0_544895962.html

    Clearly the labor union CCOO, which has successfully defended musicians in other Spanish orchestras, saw the writing on the wall here, and has publicly chosen not to support the orchestra committee.

    Word on the street is that there are some serious issues in this orchestra between local (Canarian) members of the orchestra and foreign players.

    It’s truly a shame that the Gran Canarias orchestra committee has insisted on including their vendetta against the Concertmaster among their demands. They have many valid concerns and issues with management which should be addressed, and their credibility is damaged by this pettiness. And now they may be shut down.

    Note to OFGC Committee: choose your battles. And choose them wisely.

    • Don’t worry, the truth always come out in the end. Have faith.

      I am a little confused, you wrote that it is a “per service tutti” contract and another “Anonymous” commentator wrote that it is a “contract tutti”… usually these are 2 different things, or at least my understanding is that in many orchestras a “per service” is a contract for substitutes or extra players where the hiring processes are more lenient meanwhile a “contract” would be for an actual vacant position within the orchestra which does require a very rigorous audition process. Unfortunately, these days all professional orchestras of all levels employ very strict and rigorous audition processes.

      What is the opinion of the other labor union UGT? This would be a really big blow to the orchestra’s Committee if the UGT is also refusing to support the strike.
      .
      I have been reading other comments in the Spanish press today that the political group Podemos Canarias is supportive of the Orquesta Filarmonica de Gran Canaria strike. Did I read this correctly???

      https://canarias.podemos.info/2016/09/16/podemos-canarias-apoya-la-huelga-de-los-trabajadores-de-la-orquesta-filarmonica-de-gran-canaria/

      http://www.canarias7.es/articulo.cfm?id=435614

      Here is another link to an “interesting” site on facebook, it is mostly in Spanish but there is always Google Translate.

      https://www.facebook.com/musicosorquestafilarmonicagc/

      I do have to say that the “overwhelming 68 – 14” result does seems a little “much” if this is all just a personal vendetta and harassment against the concertmaster and her daughter, harassment is a very serious accusation and if this is the reason to strike, it is very ugly. However, it would be interesting to hear the other side of the story to know why Ms. Abacioaic would merit such hatred. As they say, there are always 2 sides to a story.

      OFGC Committee, you have been warned, choose your battles wisely.

  • To clarify: the OFGC committee is demanding that the Concertmaster’s daughter, hired as a contract tutti violin be fired. The CCOO labor union refuses to support a strike which calls for the firing of an employee.

  • The comments made by “anonymous” are way off the mark. All the musicians want is for their terms and conditions agreement to be respected. The hiring of the concertmaster’s daughter is a blatant act of nepotism. Said terms and conditions require that an orchestra vacancy be advertised in the first place, and specifies the procedure for voting on candidates once they have been on trial in the band. The concertmaster’s daughter did not pass the specified procedure and has been handed the latest violin vacancy to have occured on a plate. The members of the orchestra agree and accept fully that she is welcome to occupy the latest free place on a temporary basis, BUT THE JOB MUST BE ADVERTISED. That’s where it’s at.

    • Oh, come on. There are so many grey areas here you’ve lost credibility. You make it sound like the daughter was just handed a fijo (tenured) position, which is not true. You’re complaining because she’s SUBBING with your orchestra? And you’re going on strike because of this?!! Get over it.

      So you’re saying that every substitute position must be advertised? That’s absurd. In what world is that? No Spanish orchestra does this as a practice. In fact it’s not even LEGAL if the position the sub is filling in for someone who is de baja (on sick or maternity leave). Furthermore, with the hiring freeze still affecting so many Spanish orchestras, like OBC, right now, many orchestras are not even ALLOWED to advertise for positions. Even for temporary positions. Please educate yourselves.

      You’re on an island. You have a limited substitute player pool. It’s not far fetched that you’d be hiring the daughter of a 35 year veteran of your orchestra. Would you have complained if she was the daughter of a Spanish member of your orchestra?

      Listen, you guys have valid complaints. You have major issues which must be addressed. No doubt about it. But you are weakening your stance by insisting on the firing of this girl. It makes you look petty, like this is a personal grievance with your concertmaster. Let that go, deal with it PRIVATELY. She’s not fijo, it’s not forever. Set up your audition process and she will have to follow it. But don’t make it a focal point of your strike. That’s all.

  • The comments made by “anonymous” are way off the mark. All the musicians want is for their terms and conditions agreement to be respected. The hiring of the concertmaster’s daughter is a blatant act of nepotism. Said terms and conditions require that an orchestra vacancy be advertised in the first place, and specifies the procedure for voting on candidates once they have been on trial in the band. The concertmaster’s daughter did not pass the specified procedure and has been handed the latest violin vacancy to have occured on a plate. The members of the orchestra agree and accept fully that she is welcome to occupy the latest free place on a temporary basis, BUT THE JOB MUST BE ADVERTISED. That’s where it’s at.

  • Los comentarios hechos por “anónimo” están lejos de la marca. Todos los músicos quieren es que sus términos y condiciones del acuerdo que han de respetarse. La contratación de la hija del concertino es un flagrante acto de nepotismo. Dichos términos y condiciones que requieren una vacante de orquesta ser objeto de publicidad en el primer lugar, y especifica el procedimiento para la votación de los candidatos una vez que han sido juzgados en la banda. La hija del concertino no pasó el procedimiento especificado y se ha entregado la última vacante violín haber ocurrido en un plato. Los miembros de la orquesta están de acuerdo y aceptan plenamente que será bienvenida a ocupar el último lugar libre sobre una base temporal, pero el trabajo debe ser anunciada. Eso es en donde está. – See more at: https://slippedisc.com/2016/09/just-in-spanish-orch-goes-on-strike-govt-says-it-will-be-shut-down/#sthash.UhhGuFeN.dpuf

  • More background on the motives behind the strike, with a description of how it is specifically aimed at 1) management and 2) heartbreakingly, the young contracted tutti violinist who is the daughter of the concertmaster.

    That’s cruel and unusual punishment for any orchestra player, let alone someone just starting out in the profession. I can’t believe these bullies are doing this to her. For God’s sake, OFGC, take the violinist’s job situation off the table and out of the strike issues. Solve it behind closed doors. You are publicly cannibalizing your own orchestra and destroying the life and career of a young violinist. Have some decency.

    http://elculturaldecanarias.es/la-huelga-en-la-orquesta-filarmonica-motivos-y-realidades

    • I find it extremely difficult to believe that the workers and musicians of the OFGC would be willing to accept lock out / shut down (losing their salary for how long?) for the purpose of “bullying” the daughter of the concertmaster.
      This is a very serious accusation, a word of caution, “bullying” is not a term to be used lightly these days, it can backfire and have serious consequences if proven otherwise.
      It would be interesting if you could also include a link to some articles that tell the other side of the story. Do you know where we can find some?

  • As someone closely involved in the whole situation I would like to answer a couple of the questions raised by Anonymous (the one who posted on September 17th at 12:11 pm), none of our positions are per service, all members of the orchestra, once they pass our selection procedure, are on indefinite “fijo” contracts. Also the UGT stands firmly behind the committee and the vast majority of our musicians in supporting this totally justified strike. We are also further backed by the politically party “Podemos” as he so correctly writes.

    Also I would like to respond to Anonymous of September 17th 8.55pm. It is totally inaccurate to insinuate that the vast majority of the orchestra has lost credibility in this strike. We have never sort to make the hiring of this violinist the focal point of our action, something the media and 3 or 4 rogue musicians (including the candidate’s mother), are responsible for. This violinist has not been hired as a sub, but as a member of the orchestra. As any orchestra in the world, we have our selection procedure which, in our case as in many other ensembles, includes a certain amount of input from the other musicians in the ensemble. This is vital for the artistic quality of the project as we all have to make music together (I don’t know any top flight fixed ensemble whose musicians don’t have a large amount of influence in this process).

    Whatsmore, the committee is not striking in order to fire this person (who was, incidentally hired very shortly before the summer break for a position which was created for her…surely not coincidence), but to be sure that she goes through the same selection procedure as any other individual applying for our orchestra. It is important to remember that she didn’t pass the last process and that two other candidates did with an overwhelming positive vote…now if that isn’t nepotism, I don’t what is. The two candidates who passed our procedure on the other hand were not hired until just a few days ago. The orchestra members would be happy for her to play until the next audition when she will be able to present herself like any other candidate for the available position.

    So when people here speak about gray areas and lack of credibility, I wonder what can be clearer than the process I just explained?

    Furthermore we are striking for many motives of which this is only one, constant abuse from our incompetent, arrogant and totally unprepared manager who only has contempt for our terms and conditions document, amongst many other operational problems (lack of concert dress, inaccurate work schedule, lack of active work when we arrive at our rehearsals etc)

    I feel sorry that this wonderful orchestra has to live through this terrible time, but I am confident that reason will prevail and that the people of the island will see how culture in Las Palmas is rotten to the core, sadly including a very small but very vocal group of my colleagues.

    Watch this space!!!

    P.S. anonymous of September 18th 11.37, do you speak Spanish?

    • To TambienSoyOFCG: your orchestra committee is legally obligated to defend the interests of every musician in your orchestra, including this girl. That is Spanish law. It’s in the Estatuto de Trabajores which determines labor policy for all of Spain.

      She could, in theory, denounce the committee for not doing their job. What you are doing is wrong. It’s understandable that CCOO will not back you. (And CCOO has specifically expressed this as their reason in the media.)

      This is the thing: your management’s hiring choices are not her problem nor are they the problem of your concertmaster. Your complaint should be exclusively with management right now, not the person they hired with their bad practices or that person’s mother, who is a member of your orchestra.

      You are erroneously going after the girl. This is not her fault, she has done nothing wrong and you are destroying her. She has been mentioned in your press releases, notably the tv news spot on your fb page where your orch. spokesman talks about her.

      This is unprofessional and inhumane. If you have a problem with your management’s hiring practices, you go for that issue WITH MANAGEMENT not by attacking the person they hired! To name an individual player in the media as you are now doing is the equivalent of a conductor singling out a tutti player to criticize them. It should not be done. An orchestra is a collective, artistically and in labor matters. What you are doing is childish and naive and the equivalent of name calling in a primary school playground. You could make the same point perfectly well by complaining about mgt’s hiring practices, without naming names or individual players.

      You should go back to the drawing board on this issue. Take the members of your orch. out of the equation. Make it a complaint against mgt. When you’ve done this, go back to CCOO and ask them to reconsider supporting you. They will fight for you and you will win, just as Sevilla did.

      And remember, your committee’s obligation is to defend the interests and employment of ALL musicians in your orchestra. The minute you start demanding that someone be fired is when you step out of what is legally and morally acceptable in Spanish labor negotiations.

      Take

  • To Anonymous Sept 18 at 7:32:
    You are deliberately misleading in your comment. From what I have read, the committee is not asking to fire this girl. I will quote the comment from above (TAMBIENSOYOFGC), perhaps you can take more time to read it SLOWLY (and with a dictionary if needed because it seems that you are missing the point):

    “Also I would like to respond to Anonymous of September 17th 8.55pm. It is totally inaccurate to insinuate that the vast majority of the orchestra has lost credibility in this strike. We have never sort to make the hiring of this violinist the focal point of our action, something the media and 3 or 4 rogue musicians (including the candidate’s mother), are responsible for. This violinist has not been hired as a sub, but as a member of the orchestra. As any orchestra in the world, we have our selection procedure which, in our case as in many other ensembles, includes a certain amount of input from the other musicians in the ensemble. This is vital for the artistic quality of the project as we all have to make music together (I don’t know any top flight fixed ensemble whose musicians don’t have a large amount of influence in this process).
    Whatsmore, the committee is not striking in order to fire this person (who was, incidentally hired very shortly before the summer break for a position which was created for her…surely not coincidence), but to be sure that she goes through the same selection procedure as any other individual applying for our orchestra. It is important to remember that she didn’t pass the last process and that two other candidates did with an overwhelming positive vote…now if that isn’t nepotism, I don’t what is. The two candidates who passed our procedure on the other hand were not hired until just a few days ago. The orchestra members would be happy for her to play until the next audition when she will be able to present herself like any other candidate for the available position.”

    Perhaps you should also do some research and further reading about this “case” , in today’s modern times of technology and communication (Google Search, Google Translate), it is very easy to look up the information. I would highly recommend in depth and unbiased reading and research before writing your comments. I wonder since you state that “this girl” has done nothing wrong… did you know that she actually denounced the Orquesta Filarmonica de Gran Canaria and the 2 candidates that won the auditions. Never in my life have I heard of such a thing. In my opinion THAT is something very wrong. How can you possibly take to court an orchestra and their 2 winning candidates because you lost…and lost by a landslide. (as was stated by TAMBIENSOYOFGC).

    You say that this girl can denounce the committee for not doing their job. Well go ahead, it seems she already has the experience “denouncing” people.

    The job of a committee is to defend the terms and agreements conditions of the workplace. If someone breaks the rules, the committee’s job is not to defend the person who broke the rule, the job of the committee is to defend the rule and the people affected by it. I believe that “nepotism” would be included as breaking rules. I think I can safely say that nepotism is not tolerated in the European Community.

    You say that the orchestra committee should take this up with management, from my research, they have already done so on SEVERAL occasions, in each occasion, the committee was promised with SIGNED agreements that the rules would be respected only to be lied to. My conclusion from my reading is that the committee and the workers are finally fed up, which is understandable.

    You accuse TAMBIENSOYOFGC of “going after the girl” and destroying her. I will be very frank with you. It is YOU who is damaging this girl’s credibility and reputation as well as the others who are trying to publish misleading comments to try and generate sympathy and defense for this girl. As I mentioned before, these days in modern times with modern technology and communication, it is SO EASY to verify the information. This is not your local island newspaper, this site “Slipped Disc” is world most- read cultural website. People are not so gullible to just believe the first thing they read and nepotism usually sounds the warning bell.

    And whilst CCOO will not back the strike, I have read in several news outlets that the labor union UGT and the political group Podemos fully supports the strike… hmmm…. something to think about.

    My personal opinion: I think the best course of action for this girl would be to accept a temporary contract and then to do an amazing audition when the job is advertised. It would be a great opportunity for her to learn with the OFGC musicians and not to go against them. Everybody can have a bad day but luck favors the prepared.

    I hope this can be resolved soon and peacefully.

    • OK – a couple of discrepancies with what you’ve written:

      1) is the girl fijo (tenured) or is she subbing? You seem a little confused on this point. You’ve pasted a quote saying she is a regular member (I find this hard to believe since every orch. has a trial period before tenure) then you say she’ll have to audition for the job. That’s not going to happen if she’s already fijo.

      2) you are wrong about the comite: they are obligated to defend the jobs of members of the orchestra. Period. It’s in the Estatuto, Look it up, please.

      3) the girl did not “break the rule”, management did.

      4) nepotism is not addressed in the Estatuto de Trabajadores or any Spanish orch. convenio that I am aware of. If nepotism was frowned upon in orchestras, Alan Gilbert never would have won the Music Directorship of the NY Phil. His mother plays in the 1st violins. Vienna Phil boasts of its father-daughter members. You call it nepotism, VPO calls it “tradition”.

      2 final points: (a). I am not defending the girl. I have no idea who she is or what her story is. I object to the OFGC coming out publicly against one of their own. Everyone in Spain knows there has been plenty of ugly in-fighting in that orch. between locals and foreign players. Just read the recent post by their Princ Timp. on their FB page. To bring it center stage as a motivating force behind a strike is unprofessional.
      (b) being supported by Podemos will get them diddly squat. Podemos is too busy looking for their own support to be able to help.. They have no experience with symphony orchestra labor disputes and UGT doesn’t have much more. CCOO is the union they need.

      The reason why a majority of the players voted to strike was because the other issues on the table are very pressing and action must be taken now.

  • To the Original Anonymous:

    I am a reader as well.

    I don’t know if this girl is a sub or a regular player, that is what I had asked YOU since you wrote in your original comment that she is a sub player yet another Anonymous wrote that she is a contract player. TAMBIENSOYOFGC wrote in their comment that the girl IS NOT a sub player but a contract player. So yes, I am still confused about this point. But since TAMBIENSOYOFGC stated that they are close to the whole situation, I thought quoting to you their comment would clear up our confusion… apparently not.

    I believe that I am not wrong when I say that a Committee is supposed to defend the terms and conditions agreement of a workplace. Are you saying that if a worker breaks a rule then the Committee must defend this worker? So let us make a simple example, if a worker is supposed to punch in at 9 am Monday to Friday but repeatedly comes late to work, the Committee is supposed to defend this worker? If a worker goes and insults their superior or their fellow co-workers, this person should be defended by the Committee? If a worker is caught stealing or cheating, the Committee must still defend this person?
    I am trying to read this “Boletín Oficial del Estado” that was linked to my google search of Estatuto, it is 85 pages long!!!! I will need a little bit more time for translating but I honestly cannot believe that in Spain they do not defend their workplace rules or terms and conditions agreements but defend their workers whether they are right or wrong.

    I don’t think that you fully understand the meaning and definition of nepotism. It does not mean that family members or relatives may not work together in the same place. I hope it is just a misunderstanding on your part, if not, I don’t think that Alan Gilbert and Patricia Koll will be very pleased with what you are insinuating. Look up the meaning of the word and then re-read the passage from TAMBIENSOYOFGC “It is important to remember that she didn’t pass the last process and that two other candidates did with an overwhelming positive vote”. What is your conclusion?

    I went to look for this post that you mentioned by the Princ Timp and I don’t see this “conflict” that you speak of in his post. What I understood is that he is very grateful to all his teachers, locals and foreigners. That being a local or a foreigner has no influence on whether you win a job. Maybe I am missing something???

    As for the strike, it is obvious that there are many more issues behind it.

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