Spain grinds to halt on third day of strike

Madrid ground to a halt on the third day of a metro strike in a foretaste of summer industrial unrest that threatens to disrupt tourism.

No negotiations had yet been scheduled and transport unions refused to say when the strike would be called off prompting fears that it could continue indefinitely.

Workers are protesting that a 5 per cent public sector wage cut is to be extended to include Metro employees in the Madrid region as part of countrywide austerity measures aimed at reducing Spain’s huge budget deficit.

Madrid mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardon criticised unions for not living up to a binding agreement to provide at least 50 per cent service.

“They do not have the right to do what they are doing to all the people of Madrid. I think we are in an emergency situation now in Madrid,” he told Cadena Ser radio, Wednesday morning.

A parallel strike in the Basque Country by public sector workers on Tuesday ended in violent scuffles between picketers and riot police with three people arrested.

A national general strike has been called by Spain’s two leading unions for September 29 to protest labour reforms brought in by Jose Luis Rodriquez Zapatero’s socialist government.

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