September general strike 'irreversible" says Spanish union

19th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

There is no going back on a general strike called for September 29 to protest against a labour market reform, the head of Spain's largest trade union confederation said Monday.

"The process leading to the strike is irreversible," Fernandez Toxo, the president of the Communist-led CCOO, told reporters in the southeastern city of Albacete.

The CCOO and Spain's other major train union conferderation, the more moderate UGT, which together represent over two million workers, called the strike last month.

The call came after the government said it would press ahead with labour market reforms that would make it easier to hire and fire workers.

The International Monetary Fund and the government argue the reform would help slash the unemployment rate which has soared to around 20 percent, the second highest in the EU after Latvia.

They also point out that it would reduce government spending on jobless benefits.

But unions object to seeing workers' rights weakened.

They are also unhappy with government plans to raise the retirement age to 67 from 65 and austerity measures that will cut civil servants wages by an average of 5.0 percent.

The general strike will be Spain's first since 2002 and the first since the Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's socialist government took power six years ago. The socialists had until now maintained good relations with the unions.

The general strike date coincides with a European day of action, which will have as its focal point a protest at a meeting of European Union finance ministers scheduled the same day in Brussels.

© 2010 AFP

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