Spanish trade unions on Friday said they were considering more protests after the government approved a tough austerity package in an attempt to calm market concern that Spain could be engulfed by a Greek—style financial crisis.
Unions will “probably” call a general strike, said Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, leader of the far—left trade union confederation CCOO.
Some demonstrations have already taken place, and a public sector employees’ strike is planned for June 8.
The austerity programme, which still needs to be approved by parliament, will involve budget cuts of 15 billion euros (24 billion dollars) in 2010—11.
Salaries of public employees will be slashed by an average of 5 per cent from June onwards, in the first such cuts in decades.
Retirement benefits will be frozen, a bonus of 2,500 euros for each new—born baby will be abolished and public investments cut by 6 billion euros.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s Socialist government has also said it intends to temporarily increase taxes on the wealthiest members of society, without giving details.
The government is trying to reduce the budget deficit from 9.2 per cent to below the European Union limit of 3 per cent by 2013.
The cuts were expected to undermine Spain’s growth prospects. The government revised its growth forecast for 2011 to 1.3 per cent from 1.8 per cent. Spain’s economy rose out of recession in the first quarter, when gross domestic product (GDP) grew 0.1 per cent.
The government — which had initially refused to cut social benefits — was siding with “the economic right, financial speculation and the so—called markets,” Mr. Toxo complained.