Thousands protest Spain's handling of economic crisis

15th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

Thousands of people marched through the streets of Barcelona on Saturday to protest the Spanish government's handling of the country's economic crisis.

BARCELONA - About 50,000 people took part in the demonstration, according to Spain's two dominant union confederations, the CCOO and the UGT, which organised the rally. Police put participation at around 12,000 people.

The secretary general of the UGT of Catalonia, Josep Maria Alvarez, said the protest in Spain's second-largest city was a "warning call to the government".

"The measures taken up until this moment by the central and regional governments are clearly inadequate," he said.

Spain entered recession in the fourth quarter of 2008, with the economy shrinking 1.O percent from the previous three months.

The global financial crisis exacerbated a slowdown that was already underway in its key real estate sector, once the engine of its decade-long economic boom.

The economic contraction pushed up the unemployment rate to 13.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, the highest rate in the 27-nation EU.

Unions want socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to do more to protect jobs and help unemployed workers whose benefits have run out.

Zapatero has been criticised for ruling out the risk of recession until October, when he launched a 10-billion-euro (12.8-billion-dollar) public works spending program aimed at creating 300,000 jobs from March.

AFP / Expatica

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