Spanish General Strike


Spanish workers are revolting against their new three month old government.The country’s biggest unions are up in arms over labour reforms and planned austerity measures,calling a general strike for today (29th March 2015).

Image in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative People’s Party was elected on a platform of saving the country from economic ruin. They won a landslide victory over their socialist opponents and it was expected that the Spanish people were ready to swallow a bitter pill to save their economy. However, with the reality of the reforms sinking in the strikes could see a massive walkout happen.

While details of the austerity measures have not yet been announced, it’s common knowledge that they are going to be pretty brutal. The main point of contention that’s brought about the general strike seems to be the labour reforms. The new legislation will make it easier and less expensive for companies to make workers redundant, cut wages and make changes to other employment conditions. The unions fear that this legislation will further erode their power base which has been on the slide for years.

The number of people who take part in the Spanish general strike will give a strong indication of the level of support Rajoy’s government and may have an effect on future policy. However, many expect that the government will bullishly press on with their reforms and austerity measures even if they prove massively unpopular with the people. In fact, many believe that the Government will have little option if they wish to satisfy their European partners and foreign investors.

Finance Minister, Cristobal Montoro said:

“The question here is not whether the strike is honoured by many or few but rather whether we get out of the crisis. That is what is at stake and the government is not going to yield.”

Although I’m sure he would be a relatively happy man if the strikes did have a low turnout.

The indications so far seem to show that the walkouts will be substantial with 30% of workers in one poll claiming they would take part. Also, the strike had a high walkout rate among factory nightshift workers with Volkswagen and Renault manufacturing facilities being particularly badly hit.

While the reforms and the austerity measures look to be set in stone today could still have a major effect on Spanish politics for years to come; if the strikes are well attended and the Government bullishly presses on they are likely to become deeply unpopular.

Are you on the side of the workers or the Government? Let us know in the comments section.

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