Tens of thousands protest in Spain

2012-04-29 19:32
Madrid - Tens of thousands of people demonstrated across Spain on Sunday against new austerity measures targeting education and health care spending.

The protesters carried banners reading "It's a Crime to Cut Health Care" and "People of Europe, Rise Up." One simply read "No".

Many banners bore a drawing of a pair of scissors symbolising the budget cuts.

The cash-strapped Spanish government on April 20 approved reforms to scrap free medicine for pensioners and charge students higher fees, aiming to save an extra €10bn a year.

Spain's two biggest unions, the CCOO and the UGT, said Spaniards marched in 55 cities on Sunday.

Unions put the turnout in a rainy Madrid at 40 000.

In Barcelona, police said 700 demonstrators had gathered, while unions gave a figure of more than 4 000.

Nevertheless, the overall turnout was small compared with other demonstrations that have hit Spain in recent months, including on March 29 when hundreds of thousands took to the streets.

Unions have called a new demonstration on Tuesday, when Labour Day is celebrated.

Madrid has promised to slash its public deficit to 5.3% of gross domestic product in 2012 from 8.5% last year.

Spain's jobless rate hit 24% in the first quarter of this year, with 5.64 million people out of work, its highest level since 1996.

Read more on:    spain  |  economy

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