Spain general strike begins

Thursday, March 29, 2012
By Paul Martin

Spanish unions call walkout over labour law reforms at heart of austerity budget to be handed down on Friday
Thursday 29 March 2012

A 24-hour general strike begins in Spain ahead of prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s announcement of a new austerity budget Link to this video
Unions in Spain have begun a general strike over economic reforms, challenging the country’s new conservative government and joining other European workers venting their frustration at austerity measures.

The walkout in protest at changes to labour laws came ahead of a budget on Friday that is expected to include spending cuts of tens of billions of euros aimed at reducing Spain’s deficit.

The Spanish government, which is less than 100 days old, is struggling to satisfy the fiscal requirements of European Union and international investors while avoiding the fate of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, which were all forced to accept a bailout.

On top of a round of spending cuts, tax rises and reform of the banking sector, the newly elected government of the prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, last month passed a decree on workers’ rights. The legislation makes it cheaper and easier for companies concerned about their own productivity to lay off people, cut wages and modify other employment conditions.

Spain’s unemployment rate is nearly 23%, a eurozone high, and nearly 50% among young people.

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