Spain faces fresh street protests as labour unions call for strike

Kasmira Jefford
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THOUSANDS of Spanish workers took to the streets across the country yesterday, in fresh protests against tough austerity measures.

Spain’s biggest labour unions staged protests in 57 cities and have threatened to call a strike on 14 November if the government does not hold a referendum on unpopular spending cuts.

Some 60,000 people attended the union-organised march in the centre of Madrid yesterday, holding banners that read: “How can there be peace without bread?” and “Their plunder, my crisis”.

Protesters were decked out in the colours of various unions, and many wore T-shirts saying “I used to have social and labour rights”.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy unveiled €13bn (£10.5bn) in additional savings in a tough budget last month, and expectations continue to mount that the government will soon ask for a full bailout from international lenders.

With the EU’s highest rate of unemployment, Spain is under pressure to reduce its budget deficit and to convince wary investors that it can carry out its austerity cuts.

Rajoy’s People’s Party (PP) also faces regional elections in the coming weeks in Galicia, the Basque Country and Catalonia, which has become increasingly vocal about its desire to break away from Spain.

Barcelona fans at last night’s match against Real Madrid waved pro-independence flags while also holding up a mosaic of Catalonia’s red-and-yellow-striped flag.