A 24-hour general strike against labor reforms and austerity measures of the conservative government of Mariano Rachoi, was held today throughout Spain.
The protests began in the early morning hours. Holding red flags and banners that read «General Strike», «No to labor reform», and «Today we are fighting for the rights of our children», groups of trade unionists took to the streets, while others stood at entrances of businesses in the central market of Madrid, and at key public transport stations.
Around 800.000 protested in Barcelona (according to El Pais), 200.000 in Madrid and 250.000 in Valencia. Clashes occurred in Barcelona and Malaga, while the police made extensive use of chemicals and attacked the protesters with plastic bullets. Nonetheless, the trade unions emphasize «the huge success» of the strike, noting that participation reached 77%. The Ministry of Interior announced that during the incidents in several cities in Spain 58 people were arrested, and nine were slightly injured.
Approximately one hundred demonstrations were held throughout the country. In Barcelona, two more evening demonstrations began, while in Madrid one more major march is expected.
The reform makes dismissals easier, and wage increases more difficult in line with inflation. It also reduces redundancy pay. The government announced that there will be no change in reforms. «On Friday Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, is set to announce what even he describes as a «very, very austere budget» to reduce the deficit. According to El País, the EU is demanding cuts larger than those of Greece, Ireland or Portugal: «There is no comparable adjustment in [our] economic history,» says the paper» (Guardian) The trade union confederations CCOO (Workers Commissions) and UGT (General Workers Union) argue that these are the deepest cuts of workers’ rights after the change of regime in Spain. As Roarmag reports:
Interestingly, today’s strike — initially called for by the anarcho-syndicalist CNT — is widely supported by members of the decentralized indignados movement. Major marches are planned throughout the country for Thursday night, with the march in Madrid culminating in the capital’s iconic Puerta del Sol, the square that was occupied by hundreds of thousands of outraged protesters last spring.
Katherine Unger was therefore correct to point out that “Spain’s general strike is also a day of action for the 99%.” With financial markets pushing the people to the brink of despair, popular support for radical action is rapidly being ramped up. Now that the indignados are preparing for a spring of discontent, culminating into a global day of action on May 12, a powerful sign is being given to those in power: as their system crumbles, our movement grows ever stronger.
The pilots of the airline Iberia decided a 30-day strike, every Monday and Friday from 9 April to 20 July, to protest against the creation of Iberia Express, announced their union Sepla. Sepla notes that the transfer of 40 aircrafts to the new parent company means the cut of 8,000 jobs.
Unemployment in Spain has reached 23% – with one to two Spaniards unemployed under the age of 25 with «a million Spaniards struggling to pay their home loans» (Guardian)