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Spanish unions lead workers in protest against austerity

19 September, 2012The mass demonstration of hundreds of thousands of people on 15 September, with workers lead by the industry sections of trade union federations CCOO and UGT, decried the “destruction” of Spain by the Mariano Rajoy government’s austerity measures that seek to cut 102 billion euros of social spending before 2014.

Rajoy’s conservative Partido Popular (PP) is pushing the brutal cuts, primarily to health, education and welfare, at the same time as increased taxes and an enormous bailout for Spanish banks. Demonstrators called to “Defend Our Futures”, and for a referendum asking the Spanish people whether the cuts should continue.

A recent government cut was to public sector workers’ Christmas bonuses, which represent 7 per cent of annual salary. Labour reform and the removal of overtime pay are also measures hitting workers, now weakened in their labour relations. Since the Partido Popular came to power, nearly one million industrial jobs have gone in Spain.

Workers gathered at the Plaza de Cibeles on Saturday morning and marched on the Plaza de Colón where the Ministry of Industry is based.

Three IndustriALL Global Union affiliates rallied members: the Federation of Industry of CCOO, the Federation of Industry of UGT, and the UGT Metal Workers (MCA-UGT), together with the CCOO Construction Workers.

Hundreds of social and political groups also rallied their supporters and the demonstration was divided into six waves each wearing a different colour. Workers wore red.

The CCOO and UGT federations jointly committed to continued political mobilization against the cuts in services and social rights that create loss of jobs and productivity, as a flawed means of fighting the economic crisis.

The call on government is for a genuine industrial policy that can develop the Spanish economy through a strong, diversified, and competitive industry creating quality jobs.