Spain Girds for First General Strike in 8 Years to Protest Cuts

September 29, 2010 04:38

Unions are fighting austerity measures across Europe and plan protests in 12 countries today including Ireland, Italy and Portugal, the European Trade Union Confederation says.

By Emma Ross-Thomas – Sep 29, 2010 at


Spanish unions turned against the Socialist premier, a former ally, since he enacted the deepest budget reductions in at least three decades and weakened job security to cut Europe’s highest jobless rate.

Zapatero’s about-face stemmed from investor demands that he narrow the budget shortfall and spur growth after the Greek debt crisis.

Newspapers kiosks in central Madrid were closed or without newspapers at around 8 a.m., even as street cleaners were working and the metro was open. There were no buses at one of the main stations in Madrid at around the same time.

Madrid-based Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA said it would operate 35 percent of its flights. The government has negotiated minimum services with unions, including 25 percent services on suburban rail lines.

“People aren’t in the mood to strike,” said Alfredo Pastor, an economics professor at IESE business school in Barcelona and a former deputy finance minister. “With 20 percent unemployment people are afraid.”


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