Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy faced his first test, as unions staged a general strike against fresh austerity measures, as well as labour reform which makes it cheaper for companies to fire people.
Trade unions declared Thursday’s strike a success, as they oversaw shops and factories closing, public transport reduced to a crawl, and flights grounded.
One rail worker taking part in the strike said: “I’m on strike against labour reform, which left us completely exposed and gave our employers all that they need to crush us.”
There were others however who were against strike action: “I don’t think it’s the most appropriate time for it, for the companies that are suffering the consequences of the strike, or for workers who are in a bad situation at the moment,” said a restaurant manager.”
Barcelona was the scene of some of the more violent demonstrations, police barricaded public buildings and fought with protesters. They arrested many of those who were trying to stop workers from crossing picket lines to get to their jobs.
Despite the opposition, the government has vowed to press ahead with its labour reforms which it says will reduce unemployment.