Mar 30 2012

Harsh Austerity Sparks Mass General Strike in Spain

Feature Stories | Published 30 Mar 2012, 9:59 am | Comments Off on Harsh Austerity Sparks Mass General Strike in Spain -

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A nationwide general strike in Spain yesterday is being hailed as a success by union leaders who organized workers to protest austerity cuts that include weakened protections for workers. The head of the General Union of Workers, Candido Mendez, estimated that 77% of Spaniards participated in the strike, more than the percentage of Spaniards who joined the last general strike in September 2010. The Spanish business lobby CEOE disputed the strike’s success and told the Guardian newspaper that most people went to work. Reports from Madrid say many stores were open for business but mass demonstrations and striking public workers left railway stations empty and the streets filled with protesters. Around the country protests were reported to be largely peaceful, though clashes between police and protestors occurred in some areas. At least 176 people were arrested, and dozens of protestors and police are reported to be injured. The strike fell on the 100 day anniversary of the current conservative leaning government, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. To court investors and calm officials of the European Union, Rajoy today announced austerity measures for this year totaling 27 billion euros in deficit reduction measures that include spending cuts as well as cuts in tax deductions that large corporations had been taking advantage of. The measures will be voted on by Spain’s parliament on Tuesday and aimed at avoiding a bailout of the government. Spain’s economy is bigger than those of Greece, Portugal, and Ireland combined. Unemployment is at 23% and there are worries that the nation is falling into a double dip recession.

GUEST: Jordi Calvo, researcher in Delàs Center of peace studies in Barcelona

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