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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 March 2010

Spain: Thousands join mass demonstrations

Mass protests took place in Spain last week against the PSOE government´s attacks on the country´s pension system. Tuesday 23 February saw workers take to the streets in 10 cities, with 60,000 marching in Madrid and 50,000 in Barcelona. The next day saw 45,000 march in provincial capitals throughout Andalucia.

These mass demonstrations, which will continue into next week, reflect the boiling anger developing in crisis-ridden Spain, as the Zapatero government begins its attacks in earnest.

The pension 'reform' will set the retirement age at 67, from 65 now, and dramatically increase the number of years work upon which pension entitlements are calculated. It is part of the mother of all austerity packages, which will slash €50 billion from public spending. The package was announced in the face of massive pressure piled upon the Zapatero government from Spanish and international capitalism to act to cut the massive public deficit, equivalent to 13% of GDP in 2009.

Unemployment

The government is also pursuing a reform of labour law, making it easier to sack workers on fixed contracts. Yet over 4 million are officially unemployed, approaching 20% of the workforce, with a devastating 42% unemployment rate among those under 25 years old.

The government has declared that "Spain is not Greece", to assuage the international markets, wary of Spain´s economic position. Zapatero has pointed to the relative health of the banking sector, with Spanish banking giant, Santander, raking in over €9 billion in profits in 2009, for example. While it is true that life for Spain´s bankers, drunk on public money, €160 billion of which was thrown at the sector in successive bailouts, seems to be continuing relatively unabated, the government´s assertion that Spain is on the verge of exiting the recession must seem a sick joke to the millions thrown into poverty by the crisis. For the majority, mass unemployment, an uncertain future and declining living standards are the reality, with no sign of meaningful improvement in the foreseeable future.

The massive anger that exists is clear. However, the leaders of the country´s main trade unions have proved woefully unwilling to give adequate expression to this anger and willingness to fight. Anyone who attended the mass union-organised national demonstration in Madrid on 12 December 2009, was left in no doubt as to what course of action the majority of workers and trade union activists favour at this stage - a general strike!

How long the trade union leaders will succeed in holding the movement back from a general strike is unclear. However, it is clear that, despite the government´s anxiety to stress that "Spain is not Greece", the militancy of the Greek working class will be matched by Spanish workers and youth, who will decisively move onto the stage of struggle in the next period.

CWI members participated in demonstrations in Madrid and Seville and received a warm response to our material calling for the immediate organisation of a 24 hour general strike to begin the fightback.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 3 March 2010:

Fighting for jobs, services and conditions

PCS: All Out to Defend Jobs and Services

Stop council cuts


Youth fight for jobs

Invest in jobs, education & Training

Cut the working hours, not the jobs!

Portsmouth students and workers unite to fight cuts

Brighton students say: Save our nursery

EMA inadequacy impacts badly on students


International socialist news and analysis

Building action across Europe

Greece - millions take part in general strike

Spain: Thousands join mass demonstrations


Socialist Party news and analysis

The fairytale world of RBS

Nationalise the energy giants

Activists launch socialist challenge

Walsgrave hospital Coventry: Stop the parking charges rip-off

Fast news


Socialist Party workplace news

Where is the BA cabin crew dispute going?

Smash the bosses' construction blacklist!

Leeds lecturers win concessions - but cuts remain to be fought

Workplace news: In brief


Unison

Unison general secretary election: Nominate Roger Bannister

Legal ruling exposes hypocrisy of Unison leadership


The Socialist Interview

FBU general secretary speaks to The Socialist


Socialist Party women

Women will be at the fore in the fightback!


Media

Global media monster News International condemned

The hounding of Tommy Sheridan

Savage cuts planned at the Beeb


Football

Supporters should own Pompey, not developers


Socialist Party feature

The worldwide thievery of big business


 

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