Spanish unions call new protests against labour reforms

27th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Spain's largest unions, which staged a general strike last month against labour reforms, Wednesday called new protests for December to try and force the government to reverse the measures.

"The UGT and CCOO are going to show that the social conflict is still ongoing," the head of the UGT union, Candido Mendez, told a news conference.

"The unions are going to maintain our opposition to the government'S labor reforms."

His counterpart at the CCOO, Fernandez Toxo, said "we are not going to merely issue condemnations. We are beginning a process of sustained mobilisation to give continuity" to the general strike on September 29.

As part of that, he announced nationwide demonstrations for December 15, coinciding with a European Day of Action against spending cuts, and on December 18.

The government has vowed there will be no reversal of the labour reforms, which cut Spain's high cost of firing workers and gives companies more flexibility to reduce working hours and staff levels in economic downturns.

The reforms, which were backed by the International Monetary Fund, received final approval from parliament on September 9.

In the general strike on September 29, pickets clashed with police, airlines cancelled flights and commuters battled transport chaos.

Tens of thousands also took to the streets in major cities over the government measures, aimed at slashing unemployment, which has soared to more than 20 percent, and reviving the battered economy.

Unions 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.

© 2010 AFP

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