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Spanish union threatens strike over austerity plan

Published on 13/05/2010

The Spanish union representing public sector workers Thursday threatened demonstrations and a strike to protest the socialist government's new austerity 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 union announced.

The leaders of the country’s two largest unions, the CCOO and the UGT, were meeting on Thursday with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who was attempting to convince them of the necessity for the new belt-tightening 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 the public deficit to the eurozone limit of three percent of gross domestic product by 2013 from 11.2 percent last year.

The latest measures include 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.

The public sector branch of the CCOO said it planned to send its proposals to other unions to allow them “to examine the possibility of a joint appeal” and a call for demonstrations on May 20.