Strike support dips in Spain: poll

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The number of Spaniards who said they were sure to join a general strike over labour reforms set for September 29 dropped to nine percent in August, a dip of six percentage points from July, a poll published Sunday showed.

The survey, published in El Pais newspaper, showed the sharp decline from 15 percent in July who had said they were certain to take part in the strike called by the Communist-led CCOO union and the more moderate UGT.

Thirteen percent of respondents however said they would "probably" join the general strike, which will be the first since Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist government took power six years ago.

The Socialists have traditionally had good relations with the unions.

Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said they would not take part in the strike, and 18 percent said they would "probably" not join it.

There was a close split between those who considered the strike justified (58 percent) and those who saw it as unjustified (56 percent).

"Time has played in Zapatero's favour," El Pais said. "The work reform decree has been in force for two months already," making it "impossible for the text to be changed as a consequence of the strike."

The reform aims to make it easier to hire and fire workers, reduce government spending on jobless benefits and help slash the unemployment rate which has soared to around 20 percent in Spain, the second highest in the EU.

The reform is waiting for final approval from the lower house of parliament on September 9.

The poll also showed Spaniards had a pessimistic outlook regarding the country's recovery, with 86 percent saying they thought more time was needed to come out of the crisis.

The Spanish economy, Europe's fifth-largest, slumped into recession in 2008 owing to the collapse of a property boom which had long fuelled growth.

It recovered this year with tepid growth of just 0.1 percent in the first quarter and 0.2 percent in the second.

The poll, for which a sampling of 500 people were interviewed, was carried out by the Metroscopia Institute on September 1-2.

© 2010 AFP

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