Spanish union warns of general strike over austerity cuts

21st May 2010, Comments 0 comments

A major Spanish union Friday warned it would "probably" call a general strike over the government's tough new austerity measures aimed at slashing the public deficit.

Unions have already called a walkout of public sector workers for June 8 over the plan, but have previously ruled out calling a wider general strike.

"The CCOO is already working as if this country is going to experience a general strike," said the secretary general of the CCOO union, Ignacio Fernanez Toxo.

"Probably we will have one... It depends on the government whether it happens or not," he told reporters.

"People are fully aware of what happens in the country, and reaching the point of a general strike is dramatic but sometimes necessary."

The socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero approved the two-year 15-billion-euro (19-billion-dollar) austerity plan late on Thursday.

It includes a five-percent pay cut for public sector workers from June, a freeze on state pensions and a wage freeze from 2011.

Thousands of civil servants took to the streets in protest as the cabinet approved the measures.

The plan comes on top of a 50-billion-euro austerity package announced in January designed to slash the public deficit to the eurozone limit of three percent of gross domestic product by 2013 from 11.2 percent last year.

The government is under pressure to take action from both its EU partners and from the markets, which fear Spain could follow in the footsteps of Greece, which received an unprecedented 110-billion-euro bailout by the EU and the IMF earlier this month to save it from bankruptcy.

The latest measures must still be passed by parliament, where Zapatero does not have a working majority and must rely on small parties to pass legislation.

Public Works Minister Jose Blanco warned Friday that any rejection of the plan by parliament would be a "disaster" for the economy.

© 2010 AFP

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