Arab Today, arab today thousands march in spain against austerity
Last Updated : GMT 15:01:24
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Thousands march in Spain against austerity

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Thousands march in Spain against austerity

Madrid - AFP

Tens of thousands of people marched in dozens of Spanish cities onThursday against austerity measures enacted by the government, which is undepressure from the EU to reduce its public deficit.Rallies were staged in Madrid and 53 other cities by more than 100 organisations,including Spain's two largest trade unions, the CCOO and UGT, as well as groupsrepresenting health and education services.Several thousand people, many waving red-and-white labour-union flags, marchedthrough the streets of the Spanish capital behind a large black-and-white bannerthat read: "The austerity policies must end".Retired civil servant Maria Cruz Otero, 67, said she was protesting because the cutswere affecting those worst off in Spanish society."With the so-called austerity it is the same people who are being left with nothing,those who already have little," she said.Years of tax hikes combined with freezes and reductions in public-sector pay havecaused a "brutal loss in purchasing power" for many people, she added.The protests were held on the eve of a large demonstration planned in Brussels bythe European Trade Union Confederation to demand the end ofausteritypoliciesintheEuropeanUnion.Theconfederation expects at least 50,000 workers from more than 20 Europeancountries will take to the streets of Brussels to express their unhappiness with theeconomic policies being pursued in Europe.Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government has struggled tocontain annual deficits by raising taxes, freezing public salaries and curbingspending in areas such as education and health care despite angry street protests.The government says its painful reforms are delivering results after the economyemerged gingerly from recession in mid-2013. Growth remains slow, however, and the unemployment rate still tops 26 percent asthe nation struggles with the aftermath of a decade-long property bubble bursting.Despite the difficult economic environment, Spain has promised the EU it will lowerthe public deficit to 5.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, 4.2 percent next year and 2.8 percent in 2016.Spain's public deficit fell to the equivalent of 6.62 percent of total economic outputin 2013 from 6.84 percent in 2012, just failing to meet a 6.5-percent target.Catholic charity Caritas warned last week government cuts to social benefits andhigh unemployment have caused an "unprecedented rise" in poverty in Spain.

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