Thousands of citizens called upon by the main Spanish unions, CCOO and UGT, on Sunday took to the streets all over the country to protest against the labor reform approved by the government and called by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy “just, good and necessary.”
Under the slogan “No to the labor reform for being unfair to workers, ineffective for the economy and useless for jobs,” 57 Spanish cities staged demonstrations that, in general, transpired without incident.
Madrid was the city where the greatest number of protesters turned out - more than half a million, according to organizers, but only 50,000, according to police - followed by Barcelona with 400,000, as reported by the unions, but just 30,000, according to figures provided by the regional government of Catalonia.
During the march in Madrid, protesters shouted “general strike” and displayed posters with slogans such as “Your plunder is my crisis,” “If there’s no bread for the worker there will be no peace for the businessman” and “Education is not an expense, it’s an investment.”
At the end of the demonstration, representatives of the young union members read a manifesto in which they insisted that the reform approved by the government will not create jobs and said that its objective is to place the labor market at the service of businessmen.
During the day, the CCOO and the UGT issued a call to Spaniards to give a broad “response” to the reform and warned that this is the beginning of an “intense and sustained” series of demonstrations and an information campaign.
They urged the citizenry to join the demonstration scheduled for Feb. 29 and called by the European Confederation of Unions, or CES.
The representatives of the two big Spanish unions, Ignacio Fernandez Toxo and Candido Mendez, emphasized that the protest was not staged to seek confrontation, but to correct the labor reform and offer a channel to the public for them to demonstrate against the policy of cutbacks and layoffs that, in the unions’ judgment, the recently elected conservative Popular Party government is imposing.
Spain’s Socialist Party, or PSOE, which is the country’s main opposition party since losing the election that brought the PP to power, and the United Left, or IU, also supported the demonstrations on Sunday.
In Madrid, Socialist parliamentary spokesperson Soraya Rodriguez said that her party will be out on the street, in Parliament and everywhere else to “stop” the labor reform because the rights of workers and the unemployed “are at stake.”
IU general coordinator Cayo Lara agreed that “the madness of the PP” must be halted because it could result in six million people unemployed if nothing is done. Currently, the number of people without work in Spain is about five million, or almost 24 percent of the working population.
In Seville, where on Saturday Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was overwhelmingly reelected as the PP chief, the premier expressed his respect for the protests but said that the reform is “just, good and necessary” for Spain.
Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said that the reform will create jobs and economic growth.
The labor reform approved by the government reduces the amount of the indemnity for workers who are laid off improperly from the current 45 days per year worked to just 33 days, with a maximum of 24 monthly payments instead of the current 42.
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