Spain: 80% adhesion to strike, say unions, 62 arrests

Demonstrations in main cities, incidents and arrests in Madrid

14 November, 15:42

    (ANSAmed) - Madrid, November 14 - Some 80% of the workforce, up until 90% in certain sectors and regions, adhered to a general strike today in Spain, according to unions Ugt, CcOo and Uso. The government has said instead that the day 'is going on as usual'. Protests are ongoing without major incidents being reported. This is the first European strike against spending and salary cuts and raised taxes and the second in Spain after one on March 29 to oppose austerity measures approved by Mariano Rajoy's government.

    In Madrid however a number of clashes between demonstrators and police are being reported: 62 people were arrested, 34 including 18 police officials have been wounded, according to the first estimates given at 11 am local time by the general director of the interior ministry Cristina Diaz. Diaz said transport, general markets and industries were not significantly affected by the strike.

    In the central Gran Via in Madrid, a significant deployment of agents removed a road block by demonstrators chanting 'this is not a crisis, it is a stirrup'. 'We must do everything that is possible to change the situation', said Patrizia Lezcano, a technician. 'There are significant reasons to take to the streets, they cut over 20,000 teaching jobs in a few months, public schools must be defended' said Iaki Laborda, a high school teacher.

    Downtown Madrid is under heavy security and a helicopter is flying above parliament which is patrolled by police. No serious incident has been reported.

    In statements to the media, the leader of CcOo in Madrid, Javier Lopez, stressed the 'mass participation to the strike and the paralysis of production and education activities'.

    According to data provided by CcOo and Ugt, 100% of metal industry and cleaning employees and between 80 and 100% of urban transport workers participated in the strike. At Madrid's Barajas airport, 300 workers with the Iberia airline staged a demonstration. Some 30 flights were cancelled due to the strike of ground personnel.

    Students protesting against education cuts staged a protest in Madrid alongside doctors opposing the privatization of health centres and hospitals and the introduction of a euro on prescriptions.

    Protests are scheduled all day long in 30 cities while in the capital a march will begin at 6 pm in Atocha to end at plaza Colon. Unions say many will participate. Almost 5.8 million people are currently unemployed in Spain with 1.7 million families including at least one unemployed member as the country is facing a difficult recession this year. (ANSAmed)
    © Copyright ANSA - All rights reserved