Since the global economic crisis broke out in 2008, the many-sided protest movement against neoliberal austerity has yet to gain enough strength to force any real retreats from governments doing the bidding of capitalism’s ruling elites. But the March 29 general strike against the new labour law in Spain — hugely supported and backed by often vast demonstrations in 111 cities and towns — could well point to a turning of the tide.
Since its November 20 election triumph, the administration of Spanish Popular Party (PP) Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has launched such a blitzkrieg of neoliberal policies, less democratic rights, state centralism and conservative social values that at times it seems as if the country has gone back 40 years in four weeks. Rajoy’s is not just one more example of a new government breaking promises due to “shocking revelations” that its predecessors had left the cupboard bare. (That old ruse has already led to public sector salary cuts of up to €500 a month.)
Last year it was the indignado movement that filled Spain’s city squares with hundreds of thousands of protesters. On February 19, it was the union-led movement against the Popular Party (PP) government’s new labour law. On February 29, another mass protest flooded the squares: tens of thousands of students protesting against cuts to education in 25 cities and towns across Spain. They had paid no attention to the plea of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who on the eve of the protest asked Spaniards “to understand that things are not that easy”. Huge support
Fifty-seven Spanish cities and towns came to a stop on February 19. Up to 2 million people marched in protest against the new labour “reform” of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Popular Party (PP) government. The marches brought together veterans of the struggle for union and worker rights under the Franco dictatorship, activists from the 1970s “transition to democracy” and today’s indignados. “Old” slogans (“If you don’t fight, you lose”) mixed with new (“They piss on us and say it’s raining”).
Will the Spanish economy benefit from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy government’s anti-worker labour market reform? How tens of millions of people answer that question — and act on their answer — will determine the course of Spanish politics this year and beyond. The law was announced on February 10 and already in force as a royal decree before adoption by parliament. See also Spain's 'Work Choices Super' at a glance Spain: Millions march against labour law
How will Spain’s new labour "reform" — announced on February 10 by employment and social security minister Fátima Báñez and already in force as a royal decree before adoption by parliament—affect Spain’s workers and unemployed? First, imagine the essence of 30 years of Australian anti-worker and anti-union law — from Hawke’s Accord through Keating’s enterprise bargaining and Howard’s Workplace Relations Act to Work Choices and the Fair Work Act — but all rolled into one bill.
A vast icy pool of Siberian air, the coldest in 50 years, settled over all Europe in late January. At least 150 people without shelter were killed. Yet the suffering from this extreme cold snap will be nothing compared with that of the economic ice age now threatening to entomb Europe’s most vulnerable economies. Over the past fortnight southern Europe’s growth prospects have become increasingly wintry:
The November 20 Spanish election went as the polls had forecast: the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government was massacred, with its lowest vote in 34 years. The right-wing Popular Party got a 186-seat absolute majority in the 350-seat parliament and left and left-nationalist forces emerged stronger, led by the United Left (IU) and Amaiur, the Basque left-nationalist coalition.
The overwhelming success of the October 15 “United for Global Change” demonstrations (which took place in more than 1000 cities and towns in about 90 countries) is having powerful positive feedback on the indignados (15-M) movement in Spain.
At a Madrid media conference called by the 15-M movement to announce Spanish actions for the October 15 global day of occupations, the media showed little interest in the international solidarity plans of the world’s founding indignado movement. The journos wanted to talk about one thing: what would be 15-M’s attitude to the November 20 Spanish general elections? Abstention? Spoiling the ballot? A vote against the parties of “the political class”? A vote for parties closest to 15-M’s positions? And, if so, which parties?