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Spanish unions call general strike November 14

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Spain’s labour unions Friday called a general strike for November 14, the second such blanket action this year against the government’s biting austerity measures.

The UGT and CCOO unions said they had approved the multi-sector strike as part of a broader day of action called by the European Trade Union Confederation.

“Unemployment, cuts, the impoverishment of the majority and the deterioration of public services justify a general strike,” the CCOO said in a statement.

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Spain is in its second recession since the worst of the economic and financial crisis started in 2008 and the unemployment rate is close to 25 percent.

The government has announced tens of billions of euros in pay cuts, tax rises and other reforms that it says are needed to lower Spain’s deficit and strengthen its economy in the long term.

The measures have sparked numerous mass street protests this year and the year’s first general strike on March 29. Hundreds of thousands of protestors marched in towns across Spain that day, though some workers said they could not afford to miss a day’s pay.

CCOO leader Ignacio Fernandez Toxo said the strike showed “firm opposition to the austerity policies that are generating unemployment and a recession that we are suffering in this country and in southern Europe, and which is advancing unstoppably.”

The UGT said in a motion approved on Friday: “All this is putting families in our country in an unsustainable situation.”

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The UGT and CCOO, which represent the majority of unionised workers in Spain, met later with 150 groups including smaller unions, the students’ union, and other social organisations to formally launch the strike call.

“There was unanimous backing by all of those present at the social summit for a general strike to be called,” UGT leader Candido Mendez told a news conference afterwards.

The European confederation has called for a Europe-wide day of action including strikes, demonstrations and other actions.

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Unions in Portugal have called a general strike for the same day and the main private sector union in Greece, GSEE, has also called a strike.

“Other countries will probably join in, in coming days,” Toxo told reporters.

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With backing from numerous sectors, the strike raises pressure on the conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, which is resisting speculation that it will have to seek a bailout from its European partners to save its public finances.

The government has shown no sign of backing down on its reforms, imposed under pressure from European authorities, and on Friday it said a general strike would hurt the economy.

“I think that at a time of great difficulty for all concerned, we should act responsibly, and I ask the unions to do so,” Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told a news conference.

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[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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