Tens of thousands of people in Spain have taken to the streets again to protest against government austerity measures.
Rallies in Madrid and 53 other cities on Thursday also attracted more than 100 organisations, including two of the country’s largest trade unions, to demand an end to tax increases and pay freezes.
Retired civil servant Maria Cruz Otero, 67, told AFP news agency she was protesting because the cuts were affecting those who were worst off in Spanish society.
“With the so-called austerity it is the same people who are being left with nothing, those who already have little,” she said. There had been a “brutal loss of purchasing power” for many people, she added.
The Spanish government says its reforms are working and it has promised the European Union it will reduce the public deficit to 5.8 per cent of the gross domestic product this year, 4.2 per cent the next and 2.8 per cent in 2016.
But unemployment stands at 26 per cent and the charity Caritas warned last week that welfare cuts and high unemployment had led to an “unprecedented rise” in poverty.
The Spanish protests were held on the eve of a large demonstration to be held in Brussels by the European Trade Union Confederation.
The body expects at least 50,000 workers from more than 20 countries to protest against the economic policies being pursued in Europe.
During an anti-austerity march in Madrid last month, protesters clashed with police to leave more than 100 hundred people injured and dozens arrested.