Spaniards hit streets for labor rights

Spaniards hit streets for labor rights

MADRID - The Associated Press
Spanish workers angry over labor market reforms formed boisterous picket lines outside wholesale markets, some TV stations went off the air and car factories were all but idled in the early stage of a general strike yesterday.

A total of 58 people were detained and nine were injured in scuffles as the strike got under way a minute after midnight, the Interior Ministry said.

Unions are challenging a conservative government not yet 100 days old, protesting changes to labor market rules long regarded as among Europe’s most rigid that include making it cheaper and easier for companies to lay people off and cutting wages.

The demonstrations come just a day before the government will serve up even more austerity pain with a budget to feature tens of billions of euros in deficit-reduction measures.

Around Spain, unions are trying to bring the country to a crawl by guaranteeing only around 30 percent of normal public transport service at rush hour times.

The union UGT said virtually all workers at Renault, SEAT, Volkswagen and Ford car factories around Spain, and at other industrial, mining and port facilities, honored the strike during the overnight shift. UGT said that overall participation in the strike so far was “massive.”