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Spain braces for general strike

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Spain braces for general strike


Spanish unions hold their first general strike since 2010 on Thursday, and as with two years ago the reasons for downing tools are the same; the government’s austerity programme.

In the meantime that government has changed, with the right-wing – organised labour’s arch enemies – now in power.

Polls show only 30 percent of the population believe it is the right time to strike.

“There’s a lot of propaganda being used to put people to sleep, like saying ‘the strike won’t do anything’,” said Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, the General Secretary of Spain’s biggest trade union Comisiones Obreras (CCOO).

“We need the freedom, the right to safe employment, just as we need the right to exercise a general strike,” said the General Workers Union (UGT) leader Candido Mendez.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has already faced two strikes and scores of demonstrations involving tens of thousands of people since taking office, and has shown no sign of being willing to buckle under pressure. However it is the first general strike for the Popular Party to deal with since it regained power.

And while students and the young unemployed prepared their marching banners, officials in Brussels were getting ready to keep the closest possible eye on any Spanish backsliding from proposed extra spending cuts. It appears Rajoy has nowhere to retreat to, even if he wanted to.

Train, bus and air traffic are expected to be among the worst-hit sectors on Thursday.

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