Rail workers strike in Spain as the country edges towards a possible sovereign bailout.
They were protesting against the privatisation of the rail sector as part of austerity measures announced by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last month.
A minimum service was kept running in spite of the strike, but anti-austerity sentiment pervades amongst the commuters themselves. “I think they should start cutting back at the top, that way we would react differently,” said one commuter.
Spain’s long-term borrowing costs remain above seven per cent. Greece, Portugal and Ireland were at similar levels when they applied for bailouts. Only seven-months in power, Rajoy said he has no choice but to push austerity.
“More than 900 billion euros, that’s what we owe abroad. That’s forced all the administrations… to reduce their spending and try to increase revenue. I reiterate that this is not a choice, we can’t do otherwise, we can’t spend if we have no revenue and also we can’t spend if they won’t lend us money. That’s what pushes us to make lots of difficult decisions.”
His words have done little to quell protests of civil servants in Madrid.
Rajoy did say he wanted to know the conditions linked to any rescue package before making any decisions.
Rajoy will submit further spending cuts to the European Commission for 2013-14 later on Friday, a move which will likely lead to further anger on the streets of Spain.