Hundreds of thousands of people all over Spain took part in demonstrations called by trade unions in defence of workers’ rights last Sunday.
Protests took place in 57 towns across the country.
They were in response to the most serious attack on workers since the demise of General Franco’s fascist dictatorship 35 years ago.
The right wing People’s Party (PP) government was elected last November.
It immediately announced massive cutbacks of over 40 million euros—hitting Spain’s already beleaguered public sector workers.
Then on 9 February a new assault was announced with legislation that effectively removes any defence against unfair dismissal.
It also allows bosses to lower wages if a company has or even predicts losses. Workers who don’t accept such wage cuts can be now be legally sacked. Anti-strike legislation is expected, as is a further round of cuts.
This is happening against a backdrop of over 5 million unemployed. That’s 23 percent of the working population, rising to 44 percent among under 25s.
The main trade union leaderships signed away pension rights under the previous Socialist Party government. But now they have been forced to respond.
They hope the pressure from the streets will force the government to negotiate a softer version of “reform”.
But Spain’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy responded to the protests by insisting that the new legislation was “fair, good and necessary”.
Sunday’s magnificent protests can develop into militant resistance.
Rank and file union activists, the left and the networks that emerged from the “indignados” occupation movement last year must make sure that this happens.
In recent weeks teachers and students have occupied schools in Valencia and Catalonia in protest at cuts.
Next week there will be strikes of public transport workers in Barcelona, of students and workers in Catalan universities.
Public sector workers in Castilla-La Mancha are also planning to walk out.
Not surprisingly one slogan dominated the trade union protests held last Sunday—“General strike now!”