By James Bryce
THOUSANDS of Spanish workers are holding a nationwide general strike in protest at government austerity measures.
Transport links and government services including schools and hospitals have been severely disrupted, while demonstrators have reportedly clashed with riot police in cities including Madrid and Malaga, leading to 81 arrests.
In Malaga, picketers attempted to stop lorries from leaving the city’s main food depot and buses in Madrid were escorted by mounted police – 34 injuries have been reported so far, including 18 police officers.
The Spanish government said 131 flights have been cancelled so far, although some reports have put the figure as high as 600, with British Airways and easyJet among the airlines worst affected.
Only 20% of train services are operating.
The action – called by the CCOO and UGT workers unions – is part of a wider movement billed as The European Day of Action and Solidarity.
It is the first time in Spain that two general strikes have been held in the same year and comes as the country endures its second recession in three years.
“In less than a year this country has gone back 35 years,” said UGT leader Candido Mendez.