Hundreds of Thousands Protest Labor Reform in Spain

21:32 11/03/2012
MADRID, March 11 (RIA Novosti)

http://en.ria.ru/society/20120311/172101175.html

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in 60 cities across Spain on Sunday to protest against the government’s new labor reform and ongoing austerity measures, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported.

Some 500,000 people took part in demonstrations in Madrid and another 450,000 joined protests in Barcelona. Major anti-austerity rallies took place in Seville, Valencia, Bilbao and dozens of other cities and towns across the country.

The demonstrations were called by the country’s largest trade unions in protest against a bill approved by the government in mid-February and passed on Thursday by the country’s parliament, which reduces social welfare payments and makes it easier for employers to fire workers.

Demonstrators have described the new legislation as “against the citizen” and “the most regressive reform in the history of democracy in Spain.”

The trade unions have also called a general strike for March 29 to protest the labor reform and the ongoing government austerity measures.

Spain has the highest unemployment rate in the EU at 23 percent, and protesters fear that the new reform would push the figure even higher. The government hopes the new law will encourage businesses to take on more employees.

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