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Spain: Workers gear up for general strike
The right-wing People's Party prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has provoked a 24-hour general strike on 29 March by Spain's trade unions, by making it easier for employers to sack workers. Collective bargaining will also be undermined and severance pay will be capped at two years' pay and slashed. Many Spaniards are outraged that this measure will increase unemployment (currently over five million) - which, at 23% of the workforce, is the highest unemployment rate in the European Union. Danny Byrne reports from Spain.
Less than 100 days since the formation of the People's Party government, which was meant to bring 'stability' to crisis-ridden Spain, the country has been convulsed by an intense period of protests and mobilisations. On Sunday 11 March, up to 1.5 million people marched in 60 cities, with unions claiming attendances of 500,000 in Madrid and 450,000 in Barcelona. In the region of Andalucia alone, over 220,000 are said to have turned out.
These marches followed a massive day of protest on 19 February and the spontaneous explosion of solidarity with the 'Valencian spring', which saw tens of thousands protest around the country. These mobilisations represent the build up to the general strike.
The focal point in this upturn in struggle is the recently announced 'labour reform', which represents an historic attack on the gains of the Spanish working class.
Members of Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain) participated in the mass demonstrations, emphasising the need for a sustained programme of action, democratically discussed and decided upon by workplace and community assemblies and strike committees and open to members of all unions and none.
The naming of a date for a 48-hour strike to follow 29 March, with the threat of further strikes of even longer duration if necessary, could be the basis to begin a movement capable of facing down the government's cuts and counter-reforms.
In The Socialist 28 March 2012:
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