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Hundreds of trains have been cancelled in Spain amid a one day strike by rail workers protesting against privatisation plans.

The government wants to sell off half the country’s rail sector in a drive to slash the public deficit.

The workers also oppose minimum service levels being imposed during the industrial action – higher than before and not only on passenger trains.

“Never in my life has there been a minimum service in freight transport and now there are. That’s the negotiating stance of (prime minister) Rajoy’s right wing and fascist government,” said Miguel Angel Escolario of the UGT union.

One Madrid passenger was sympathetic. She is a civil servant, a category hit hard by austerity. “They should make cuts at the top, then we’d react differently,” she said.

The unions claim that privatisation could jeopardise the safety and quality of public transport and affect around 100,000 jobs.

They are planning another 24-hour strike on September 17.

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