News Release

Spanish Unions Lead Anti-Austerity Strike

AFP is reporting: “Spain announced Thursday it has moved into a second year of a job-killing recession, a day after millions joined anti-austerity strikes and vast protests.”

DAVID MARTY, [email]
Marty is with the International Organization for a Participatory Society in Spain and is co-author of the new book “Occupy Strategy.” He said today: “Just over a month after Spaniards gathered in the thousands around the Congress of Deputies in Madrid to protest against austerity, hundreds of thousands Wednesday have followed the call by the main labor unions (CCOO, UGT and CGT) and taken to the streets in one of the largest general strikes in the history of Spanish democracy. According to union representatives more than 75 percent of the labor force did not work.

“In the middle of yet another deep recession with nearly 26 percent unemployment — and no prospects of improvement in the near future — the rebellion against what is perceived to be force-fed austerity has now reached new levels with atypical segments of the population joining the citizenry in the protest against austerity. Following a recent series of suicides that occurred during home evictions, the national police union (SUP) … recently pressured the government to reform its unbalanced foreclosure laws, mainly allowing it to become non-recourse debt — the norm in most developed countries. Doctors have also joined the protest, together with other healthcare professionals against the dismantling of several public hospitals. The workers of El País — the highest-circulation daily newspaper in Spain — are now also on strike against its very controversial financial restructuring and the massive layoffs accompanying it.

“Starting in 2008, and under the socialist government (PSOE), Spain began to cutback on social spending despite having the smallest welfare state of the EU-15 zone (21 percent of GDP vs 27 percent on average ). After four years of austerity, Spain is now said to have the second worst inequality index (Gini) in Europe after Latvia, with more than one in five Spaniards below the poverty level.

“Despite those worrying results, the conservative government of Mariano Rajoy has been praised on several occasions by the European Commission for its rigorous implementation of austerity measures. Other countries that also followed the austerity course are: Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Greece, also in long-term recessions despite their relatively small welfare states.”