Spanish trades unions protest against cap on public spending

THOUSANDS of trades union members marched in Madrid yesterday to protest against austerity measures and a swift constitutional reform to cap government spending, which they say threatens government-funded social programmes.

The workers and members of the youth Indignados movement gathered in Puerta del Sol square -- ground zero for anti-government protesters in Spain -- in the evening carrying banners reading “I don’t want any change to the constitution.”

Union leaders said 25,000 people took part but witnesses said the turnout was about half that.

The protest, organised by Spain’s two main union federations, the CCOO and UGT, came a day before the country’s Senate is due to change the constitution to limit structural deficits in central and regional governments.

Youth unemployment tops 40 per cent in Spain and one in five workers are jobless, the highest rate in the European Union.