A labor dispute at Casa Batlló has led to the closure to visitors of this iconic Barcelona building, the work of the architect Antoni Gaudí. The building will close its doors due to “the escalation of tension” due to the strike in a subcontracted company and after having suffered “irreparable damage” during a protest in which part of a stained glass window and its lead were broken.
Some employees of the Staffpremium company went on strike on October 8 and, since then, have organized various protests at the gates of Casa Batlló. The strike was backed by the Solidaritat i Unitat dels Treballadors (SUT) union and denounced the imposition by the company of temporary contracts on a “fraudulent scale”.
Since then, they have periodically gathered at the gates of Casa Batlló. And last Saturday, according to the management, they caused damage that is described as “irreparable” in the World Heritage building, in addition to several “violent incidents”. As they explain, a group of “hooded” protesters threw stones at the building, breaking part of the original 1906 leaded, recently restored.
More than a dozen protesters periodically gather in front of the Casa Batlló facade with a display of banners and with the use of megaphones and whistles and, according to a statement from the management, “harassing visitors and causing two employees of the Casa Batlló have required medical assistance for hearing problems “. “One of them, affected by tinnitus and with hearing loss, continues with medical treatment,” they specify in a note sent to the media.
According to Gary Gautier, director of Casa Batlló, the building closes because the conditions do not exist to guarantee “safety on public roads for employees, visitors and our World Heritage, despite having hired private security personnel for their protection.” “We closed to protect ourselves from physical aggressions and to protect a building that is World Heritage beyond a business”, Gautier concludes.
The SUT union has denied in a statement that any striker or member has committed “any of the actions” described by the management or has “threatened or attacked or carried out any act of vandalism.” They claim that at the time of Saturday’s protest, behind the picket line “someone threw a firecracker and a flare” and two pieces of brick almost fell on two members of the picket line. “We are sure that we have not been and we believe that it is a Casa Batlló assembly to shake off the strikers, one of many assemblages that the labor movement has suffered.”
According to the strikers, it is not true that private security guards were hired to protect the building, as stated by the management, but rather that they served to “illegally supplant the functions of the striking staff”, checking tickets and managing queues. For the union, the week before it had been the maintenance personnel who replaced the strikers in the queues.