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Spanish Workers Protest Austerity Measures

  • VOA News

Demonstrators protest in Madrid, Spain, July 16, 2012

Demonstrators protest in Madrid, Spain, July 16, 2012

Spanish workers protested in the streets against government plans to impose new austerity measures that will cut their wages.

Thousands of people poured into the streets of Madrid Sunday night in a spontaneous protest sparked by calls on Internet social networking sites. A smaller group of firefighters, police and other government workers marched again on Monday against the $80 billion plan unveiled last week by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

The workers stand to lose one of their 14 annual paychecks, one that is usually paid just before the Christmas holiday in December. Demonstrators chanted, "Hands up, it's a hold-up."

One firefighter said the austerity measures would unfairly hit the one-quarter of the Spanish workforce that is unemployed, as well as civil servants. "We are here to protect our rights and because 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," the firefighter said.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund said it is projecting that Spain's recession will continue into next year. Three months ago, the IMF predicted that the Spanish economy would expand slightly in 2013, but now says it will contract 1.5 percent this year and another six-tenths of one percent next year.

Spain is seeking up to $123 billion to rescue its ailing banks. In a policy switch, the European Central Bank has told the continent's finance ministers that major investors in the banks' bonds should bear some of the losses the banks have incurred on loans that have not been repaid. As it stands now, stockholders in the banks and those with smaller bond holdings will bear the brunt of the financial losses.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.