Spanish union calls public sector strike over austerity plan
A Spanish union Thursday called a general strike of public sector workers for June 2 over the socialist government's tough new austerity measures.
The branch of the UGT union representing the public sector also called for demonstrations from May 20, the day the measures announced Wednesday by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero are to be presented to parliament, the UGT said.
It urged all "public workers of different sectors of the country, from health to education to emergency services, municipalities, autonomous communities and government agencies, to observe a general strike on June 2."
The UGT said it will ask other unions to join the walkout over the government plan, which includes a pay cut for the public sector.
Another major union, the CCOO, earlier also threatened to call a strike over the belt-tightening measures.
"This afternoon (Thursday) we are going to submit for approval to the management of the union a schedule for mobilisation to the whole of the public sector, which will conclude with an appeal for a general strike in the sector," the CCOO announced.
The leaders of both the CCOO and the UGT met Thursday with Zapatero, who was attempting to convince them of the need for the new plan.
Zapatero on Wednesday announced austerity measures worth 15 billion euros over two years in a new bid to shore up Spain's public finances after stocks plunged last week over fears it could follow Greece into a debt crisis.
The cuts are on top of a 50-billion-euro (63-billion-dollar) austerity package announced in January designed to slash public deficit to the eurozone limit of three percent of gross domestic product by 2013 from 11.2 percent last year.
Zapatero had said just last week that he planned no additional austerity measures.
The latest plan includes a five-percent pay cut for public workers, a partial freeze on pensions and the scrapping of a 2,500-euro payout to parents for the birth of children, a key part of Zapatero's social platform to boost Spain's lagging birth rate.
Spanish media said Thursday that the public-sector pay cut was the first since the restoration of democracy after the 1939-75 dictatorship of general Francisco Franco.
© 2010 AFP