Airlines canceled flights, picketers blocked trucks from delivering produce and police clashed with protesters as Spanish workers staged a general strike on Wednesday to protest austerity measures imposed by a government struggling to slash its budget deficit and overcome recession.
The stoppage was the opening salvo of a day of protest expected to see tens of thousands of people taking to streets in several European capitals to protest belt-tightening measures that unions see as punishing workers for a crisis they consider to have been triggered by bankers and traders.
The government and unions gave widely differing views of the Spanish strike’s success.
The two main unions said the strike was being heeded by 70 per cent of employees and was a clear signal to the government to retract the reforms.
Though Labor Minister Celestino Corbacho declined to give an overall figure for strike participation, he said only 7 percent of civil servants had taken part and just 20 per cent of transport workers. But he acknowledged that energy consumption was down 16 per cent.