Spain’s population is suffering the disastrous consequences of the economic crisis. Eleven million people live in poverty, five million are unemployed and 170 house evictions take place each day.
In March, the new right-wing government approved a labor reform that constitutes the biggest attack on workers’ rights since Spain’s transition to democracy in 1973. Now employers can dismiss workers very easily and cheaply. Workers will now have less capacity to negotiate with bosses over conditions.
But in response to this attack, Spain was rocked by a very successful general strike on March 29. All major industry stopped completely. A group called “Economists Against the Crisis” have calculated that electrical use in the productive economy was reduced by 91 per cent. The demonstrations showed the massive support for the anti-austerity struggle, with almost two million people flooding Spain’s streets.
The ruling class’ fear is palpable. Before the strike, they launched a big media campaign against the strike and the trade unions. On the day of the strike there was widespread repression. Police used violence against peaceful demonstrations with tear gas and rubber bullets. More than 100 were arrested, and three people are still in jail.
The day after the strike, the government announced the worst state budget ever—23 per cent cut to education, 13 per cent cut to social services, a total de-funding of home care services, and cuts to health, unemployment benefits, housing assistance and other public spending. On the other hand, there will be only a 2 per cent cut to the monarchy, no cuts for the Catholic Church (who receive more than €5.6 billion each year), and a partial amnesty for tax evaders.
People are very angry with the politicians and the whole system. There is an average of 40 demonstrations each day. The governing conservative party recently lost two key regional elections. During the strike demonstrations, people chanted, in reference to the Spanish president Mariano Rajoy, “Mariano, you’re not going to make it to summer!”
This government is not going to change the labour reform. The Interior Minister is planning on classifying calling for revolt in the streets and passive resistance as “crimes against authority”. They are a government of the 1 per cent. But on the other side, the strike unified trade unions, left organisation, students and the “Indignados” movement in very combative pickets, and the resistance continues. Big demonstrations are planned for May 12, the first anniversary of the “Indignados” movement.
Pau Alarcón, member of Solidarity’s sister organisation in the Spanish state, En Lucha