Spanish unions demand austerity referendum

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Spanish unions demand austerity referendum

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Tens of thousands of Spanish workers have converged on Madrid from all parts of the country and every profession to voice their anger at the government’s handling of the economy.

Teachers, nurses and social service workers all protested against the spending cuts and tax rises that, in order to cut foreign debt, have strangled the economy and plunged Spain into a deep recession with record unemployment.

“Yes, we are making our voices heard here, but soon it will be in ballot boxes at a referendum,” said union leader Ignacio Fernandez Toxo.

That is just what many in the trades union movement now want; a referendum on the government’s handling of the debt crisis. The call has not yet been taken up by the opposition Socialists.

“We shouldn’t accept the pressure from Germany. All the southern countries, Greece, Spain, Italy should have a strong line and stand strong opposite Europe and say; ‘if we have to pay debt we will, but not in these conditions of slavery’,” said one marcher.

Groups took a colour; green for teachers, orange for the elderly and dependents, black for civil servants, white for medical workers, and violet for women.

“Thanks to drastic cuts in school canteen grants we have a lot of pupils not eating any more, as the only main meal of the day they could rely on was the one they got in school,” said a teacher.

The government has just said it would have to introduce extra spending cuts at the end of September on top of the 56 billion euros it cut in July or risk missing its budgetary targets