Spain grinds to a halt as workers stage national strike over austerity drive

Wednesday, June 9, 2010
By Paul Martin

Graham Keeley
TimesOnlineUK
June 8, 2010

Rubbish lay uncollected, hospitals switched to emergency mode and schools closed as public sector workers staged a one-day strike yesterday against a government austerity package designed to stop Spain following Greece into the financial abyss.

The country’s two largest unions, the Unión General de Trabajadores and the Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras, claimed that 75 per cent of civil servants, or 2.3 million workers, joined the strike. The Government put it closer to 11 per cent.

Strikers in Madrid protested outside the Economy Ministry and in the main thoroughfare, bringing it to a standstill.

The Government announced its €15 billion (£13 billion) austerity package last month, cutting civil service salaries by 5 per cent this year and freezing them next year. The measures are part of a plan to bring Spain’s budget deficit down from 11.2 per cent of GDP in 2009 to 9.3 per cent this year and 6 per cent in 2011.

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