The day after a general strike paralyzed most of the country, union leaders on Friday called on the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to come up with “consensus” instead of “dictating” his labor reform package.
Speaking on the SER radio network, Cándido Méndez of the UGT union said that the government “just doesn’t understand” the effects the reform will have on employment.
“How much more social conflict does Rajoy think he can take?” asked Ignacio Fernández Toxo, the secretary general of the CCOO labor union.
According to EL PAÍS’ calculations, some 170,000 people took to the streets in Madrid, and 275,000 in Barcelona, in Thursday’s protest marches. The Catalan capital was the site of the most violence reported during the 24-hour stoppage. At least 80 people were injured and 74 were arrested after demonstrators clashed with riot police in Plaza Catalunya.
Felip Puig, the region’s interior chief, said that four people had to be taken to hospital because they were badly injured.
Puig spoke out against what he called “an organized urban guerrilla group” for vandalizing several bank branches and stores, including incidences of looting at several businesses.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said that the images that were broadcast around the world showing the violence that took place in Barcelona “do not reflect Spanish society.”
For his part, Joan Rosell, the head of the largest business association, CEOE, said that the Spanish government needs to continue to insist that new labor rules be introduced. “The economic rules of the game have to change, because the world is changing,” Rosell said.
He also lamented the violence that took place in Barcelona, but said that he was satisfied that there were minimum services in transportation and other areas during the strike.
The Spanish union bosses have said that more “street protests” will be carried out if the government doesn’t fine tune the labor reform package.