Spanish general strike has 'limited effect': labour minister

29th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

A one-day general strike in Spain on Wednesday over labour market reforms and government austerity measures had a "limited effect", Labour Minister Celestino Corbacho said.

"The strike has had an uneven following and a limited effect," he told a news conference.

While "practically 100 percent" of the nation's auto workers took part in the work stoppage, only three percent of hotel workers missed work, he said.

"The minimum services worked well, there were some incidents but they were resolved," the minister said.

The strike caused rubbish to pile up on city streets and led to the cancellation of dozens of flights and long-distance trains but the majority of schools and government medical clinics remained open.

Ryanair cancelled all its internal flights and most of its international flights, while Easyjet grounded half of its flights through Spain.

Unions called the general strike, the first since 2002, to protest a sweeping overhaul of the labour market aimed at slashing unemployment, which has soared to more than 20 percent, the highest in the euro zone.

They are also fighting steep spending cuts, including an average state employee salary reduction of five percent, and plans to gradually raise the retirement age to 67 from 65.

The strike comes as financial markets are on the lookout for signs of a popular backlash that could derail the government's reform plans, which are seen as key for reviving the economy and fending off a Greek-style debt crisis.

© 2010 AFP

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