Massive Spanish anti-austerity protest

This is a video about the big anti-austerity demonstration today in Barcelona.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Spain says no to vicious labour laws

Sunday 11 March 2012

by Our Foreign Desk

Hundreds of thousands of people in 60 cities across Spain took part in demonstrations today called by the country’s main trade unions to protest against the government’s attack on labour rights and the welfare state.

The rallies were held under the slogan “No to the futile, ineffective and unfair labour reform.”

They are the unions’ first trial of strength before a general strike called for March 29 to oppose the recently approved reforms and austerity measures.

Protesters hoisted red flags and chanted slogans such as “No bread, no peace,” and “Labour reform, legal violence.”

The largest rallies were mounted in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Bilbao and Vigo.

Most were preceded by remembrance ceremonies that marked the eighth anniversary of the March 11 2004 bombings that killed 191 people on Madrid’s rail system.

The reforms, passed by decree last month and approved in Parliament on Thursday, slash the cost of firing workers and ease conditions under which they can be dismissed – supposedly to reduce the country’s crippling unemployment.

They also enable bosses to wriggle out of sector-wide or country-wide union collective wage agreements.

The leaders of communist-aligned CCOO and the socialist UGT, who jointly called the stoppage and today’s rallies, met before the Madrid march to call on the government to negotiate over the introduction of the “drastic” reforms.

Ignacio Fernandez Toxo and Candido Mendez advised the government to “be wary” because working people are adamant that the labour reform must be modified and will not be cowed.

Spain: ‘Books not truncheons’ — students protest education cuts: here.

Hungary: Seven thousand trade unionists and democrats rallied in Budapest’s Kossuth Square on Saturday to call for a “new republic” with a progressive tax system, free higher education and a directly elected premier: here.

Hundreds of people rallied in central Madrid on Saturday to express their opposition to a US billionaire’s plan to build a vast gambling complex called Eurovegas in the city: here.

Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co.: “I’ve always viewed Spain, not Greece, as the quintessential euro crisis country. With Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government balking – rightly – at further austerity, the focus is now where it arguably should have been all along. And with Spain now front and center, the essential wrongness of the whole European policy focus becomes totally apparent. Spain did not get into this crisis by being fiscally irresponsible; see the little comparison on the chart on this page”: here.

Two months ago almost to the day Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy was caught telling other EU leaders that his labour reform plan “is going to cost me a general strike.” Well, if he’s been wrong on most things since being elected in a landslide victory over the Socialists in November last year, he’s right on this one: here.

12 thoughts on “Massive Spanish anti-austerity protest

  1. Be careful when you use the word ‘austerity’

    Sometimes, as socialists, we have to be careful about using words with a hidden class bias.

    A case in point is the word “austerity”. As it has become more and more frequently used, I have got more and more angered by it. It pretends to be class neutral, but it’s not.

    We all know that for the top 1 percent “austerity” is just a word they use to justify an acceleration of their plundering and vandalism.

    For the next 10 percent, austerity means, at worst, slight adjustments in their lifestyle or consumption patterns as in the dictionary definition: “a reduced availability of luxuries, the state or quality of being austere”.

    But for the majority of us austerity has a very different meaning—the struggle for a decent life, impossible choices, and the cancellation of cherished hopes and aspirations.

    It means an unremitting life or death struggle for those on low or no income.

    For the vast majority government “austerity” does not involve us adopting a slightly more austere lifestyle.

    It causes hardship, sacrifice, suffering, privation, impoverishment and even destitution.

    Rather than “austerity”, we should constantly use these words to describe government attacks on our class.

    John Murphy, Chair, North West Region UCU


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  4. Hundreds of thousands protest across Spain

    Hundreds of thousands demonstrated across Spain Sunday against labour reforms introduced by the Popular Party government.

    A general strike has been called for March 29.

    Unions said rallies took place in 60 cities and towns across the country, including in the capital Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville. They estimated up to 500,000 demonstrators in Madrid, with another 450,000 in Barcelona.

    Before a rally in Madrid’s Puerta de Alcala square, protesters held a minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the March 11, 2004 bombing of Madrid commuter trains that killed 191 people.

    Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government cut maximum severance pay liable by private-sector employers from 45 to 33 days salary for each year worked, for a maximum working-time of 24 years. The government has also announced spending cuts of €8.9 billion (US$11.5 billion) that include a public sector wage freeze, and higher taxes on income, savings and property.

    Spain has only had five general strikes since the death of Francisco Franco and the end of his fascist regime in 1975.

    The country’s unemployment rate is the highest in the developed world at nearly 23 percent, with the rate at almost 50 percent for workers aged under 25.


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