Spanish unions said a massive general strike Thursday in protest of government budget cuts and reforms had nearly brought industry in the country to a halt, the Associated Press reports. The government said industry was barely impacted.
Spanish workers are angry over what they say are pro-business labor reforms enacted by the country’s new conservative government. Unions worry that new laws would make it easier for companies to fire workers; the government argues that unemployment will be brought down in the long term.
During Thursday’s strike, workers formed picket lines in front of markets and garages. In scattered clashes with police, 58 people were detained and nine were injured, according to the AP.
The unions said there would be more unrest unless they received a “gesture” of some kind from the government to indicate that it was scaling back reforms. The government said no. On Friday, in fact, the government’s announcement of a 2012 budget will include tens of billions of dollars in deficit-reduction measures, which is likely to further anger workers.
Spain is on strike. We are losing our rights, and losing democracy! #29M— Elisabet Roselló (@Lisbushi) March 29, 2012
Spain has been protesting its economics woes for nearly a year, including a 10,000-strong demonstration last May in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square during which protesters similarly demanded jobs, economic equality and “real democracy.”
See photos of Thursday’s strike below: