Small businesses in Spain slam economy policies

27th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

About 1,000 workers from small- and medium-sized businesses rallied to demand the government change its economic policies.

MADRID – Some 1,000 workers from small- and medium-sized businesses protested outside Spain's parliament on Thursday to demand the government change its policies to tackle the economic crisis.

The crowd called on Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to resign, shouting "Spain deserves another prime minister".

"This government ignores the small- and medium-sized companies and the independents," said Javier Parera, 54, who founded a chain of bakeries in the northeast city of Barcelona.

"We are suffering from not having access to credit, regulations that are too strict," he said.

Spain's economy, the fifth-largest in Europe, fell into recession at the end of 2008 as the global financial crisis exacerbated a correction that was already underway in the construction sector, the engine of its growth.

The slump in the building sector has spread to other areas, pushing the unemployment rate to 13.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, the highest level in the 27-nation European Union.

"The solution would be a radical change in economic policy" with "more flexibility, more credit," said Parera, who has seen sales at his four bakeries fall 15 percent and orders from the hotels that he supplies plunge 30 to 40 percent.

"I paid the last salaries of my employees with savings made by my wife," he said.

Several opposition deputies, from the right and the extreme-left, came out of the parliament building to observe the protest.

Other demonstrations have taken place in recent months in the Spanish regions worst hit by the crisis but the two biggest unions, the UGT and the CCOO, have for the moment ruled out calling a general strike.

AFP / Expatica

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