Thousands of government workers and trade union members have joined marches across Spain, to vent their anger over 65 billion euros worth of spending cuts and tax hikes.
The ruling conservative Popular Party used its majority in Parliament to push through the latest austerity measures, which include a rise in sales taxes and a wage cut for civil servants.
In all, 78 cities held demonstrations on Thursday.
“When the crisis started they lowered our pay. We understood that we had to make an effort and we didn’t protest,” said Victoria Rivero, a tax office worker.
“But now, it seems that they are always hitting us and we are not responsible for this situation. It seems unfair, this is why we came here,” she continued.
Protester Victor Fermeiro added: “Politicians should reconsider their wages, their extra benefits and the money they spend on trips. Wealthy people should see some spending cuts too, not only civil servants who work hard, have limited rights and see their wages increased very rarely.”
As night fell in Madrid on Thursday, Spanish police clashed with some of the protesters.
Tear gas and rubber bullets were fired, as a crowd tried to reach the capital’s congress building.
There were similar scenes in Barcelona, where around a dozen protesters were detained outside the local parliament buildings.
The latest austerity measures are being brought in to help Spain avert a full European bailout.