There are now daily protests against austerity in Spain with miners, police, civil servants and unemployed returning to the streets on Tuesday.
The latest round of cuts announced by Mariano Rajoy’s government include a three-point rise in the regressive Value Added Tax to 21%, cuts in unemployment benefit and civil service pay and benefits.
On Monday a coffin symbolising the death of Spain’s civil service took pride of place as at least a thousand protesters filled the streets of the capital, Madrid, chanting “Hands up it’s a hold up.”
Miguel Ángel Lorenzo of the CGT Union was particularly angry about that. “They’re cutting the Christmas bonus of people who earn 1,200 euros after 20 years of service,” he said.
“We consider the type of cuts made are totally unfair at a national level in the way they affect the unemployed, the handicapped and us,” added a firefighter.
It was the first time firefighters have taken part in the protests, joining nurses, teachers and ordinary Spaniards who reject the austerity measures demanded by the EU and the IMF.
On Tuesday, protests took place in Madrid, Barcelona and Zaragoza.
Madrid traffic blocked
Hundreds of civil servants blocked traffic in the capital.
“I am here to defend my rights as a worker, I’m hoarse from screaming and I will continue taking to the streets, as we should all,” Susan, a health worker told Efe news agency.
She and other colleagues have warned that they will not stop until the government ceases to “drown” the public sector.
They waved banners with slogans like “They want to ruin the country” and shirts with slogans like “I once had rights.”
National police cut traffic in Zaragoza
Meanwhile, officers from the national police force who have been deployed against the protesters, changed sides to show their anger at the attacks on their pay packets, with hundreds cutting traffic in Zaragoza.
Watched by local police, the officers sat on the zebra crossing located opposite a Zaragosa police station, blocking traffic for half an hour.
Lambea Cesar, the Spanish Confederation of Police, insisted that they will continue the protests until they succeed in reversing the austerity measures hitting police and other public sector workers, whose are to lose fringe benefits that seek to compensate in part for an ‘indecent’ basic wage, he said.
It was time to stand up to stop policies ‘that always make the poor pay”, he said.
An employment office occupied in Barcelona
Others were protesting against cuts in unemployment benefits.
The “distress” suffered by the jobless lining up at the employment offices saw 70 people to occupy an office of the Catalan Employment Service in Barcelona.
The protesters, members of the Unemployed Assembly of Catalonia, shouted “politicians and bankers are stealing our money. ”
Diosdado Toledano, assembly member, said the protest is “just the beginning” of an awareness campaign that will move forward with a petition to present a bill “guaranteeing a minimum income for every citizen Catalan” .
Miners action returns to pit villages
After taking Madrid last week, the centre of activity of the coal miners’ struggle against cuts has returned to pit villages.
In Ponferrada, over two hundred miners gathered outside a local right wing Popular Party headquarters and demanded action to protect employment and local communities threatened by a 60% cut to subsidies that was decided by central government.
Students declare autumn general strike
The protests came as students declared they would be holding a three-day general strike in the autumn.
The Union of Students issued a statement Tuesday that declared the measures for education planned by right-wing government of Mariano Rajoy as ‘reactionary and anti-education,’ and said they would ‘dismantle the public education system as we know it.’
‘The only way to stop these brutal attacks is the most forceful and massive mobilization of all students, together with our parents and teachers,’ the union said.
The austerity measures crushing Spain’s middle and working classes come as the banks – responsible for kicking off Spain’s economic and financial crisis by causing a speculative housing bubble that went bust – have been granted tens of billions of euros in fresh bailout funds.
Much bigger protests are expected Thursday, an official day of action organised by the main trade unions.