Thousands of protesters gathered in the Plaza Mayor in Madrid on Thursday – the first protest since the cost-of-living crisis - to demand pay hikes.
“There is no dignity without wage hikes,” the protesters chanted. Several held up placards stating: “Salary hikes or social strife!”
Although inflation in Spain reduced to 7.3% last month, from more than 10% over the summer, the current figure greatly exceeds normal levels. During October, eurozone consumer prices rose at a record pace of 10.7%, Reuters news agency reports.
The rising inflation in the country, as well as the economic slowdown, is primarily due to the impact of the war in Ukraine and the ensuing disruption to gas deliveries to Europe.
“When consumer prices jump 10% and salaries rise by 1% it means workers are losing purchasing power fast. We are getting poorer every day, and the worst part is that there is a minority getting richer at our expense,” said UGT union member, Tomas Perez.
The secretary general of the country’s biggest union CCOO, Unai Sordo, told SER that the demands being made to employers were reasonable. Unions in Spain want to see a rise of 4% to 4.5% in 2022 and 2.5% to 3% over the coming two years.
“We know that wages will probably not be able to grow exactly in line with inflation,” he commented.
Whereas the head of Spain's main business association CEOE, Antonio Garamendi, ruled out pay increases in line with inflation but indicated a willingness to consider more modest increases.
“We are not saying that wages cannot go up. What we can't do is agree to wages going up in line with inflation just like that. We can talk about productivity and profits. There are formulas,” he said on RNE radio.
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