Spain saw more mass demonstrations on Saturday afternoon in the three main cities of the Valencia region as people protested against austerity measures implemented by the Popular Party regional Government. There were also mass protests in Bilbao.
Unions said 200,000 assembled in the city of Valencia, while 60,000 amassed in Alicante and 30,000 in Castellón. The new mobilisations came in response to the measures passed by the Generalitat to cut public spending by over Euros 1 billion.
In Valencia people marched to the sound of drums and horns under the slogan ‘no to cuts to public services.’ The police charges against students last week were strongly criticised and participants renewed calls for the resignation Paula Sánchez de León, the central government representative in the region.
Separately 20,000 people marched in Bilbao in a mobilisation called by unions against regional and central government cuts and deregulation of the labour market.
Marchers backed a general strike in the Basque region on 29 March that has been called by unions in opposition to changes to employment law introduced by the national Popular Party government that will cheapen the costs of firing workers.
General secretary of the LAB trade union Ainhoa Etxaide attacked the government for what it saw as a deliberate strategy of cuts and said the demonstration was a ‘clear rejection’ of labour reforms and the policies that have been pursued to tackle the economic crisis.
Adolfo Muñoz, general secretary of the ELA union accused ‘economic and political power’ for wanting to impose changes without agreement with unions and denounced a ‘systematic attack’ on social and labour rights that he said had to be fought through a ‘large social mobilisation.’
The Bilbao protests were called by a broad coalition of trade unions, NGOs and social movement organisations from the Basque and Navarra regions.
On February 19 half a million attended mass rallies in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville against labour market changes. Two days later thousands of people demonstrated in Valencia after police were accused of using violence against students protesting against education cuts the night before.
The cuts and labour reforms are part of a Government programme designed to cut Spain’s public deficit in line with EU demands, but so far austerity measures have simply deepened the country’s economic problems.