In response to the economic problems that have colored much of Europe for many years, unrest has taken on a more vocal and at times, violent, dimension in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy. Spain’s strikes, which began Wednesday, were sparked by the country’s consistently low unemployment rate culminating in Spain Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s recent austerity budget. The Spanish police have reported that since violence erupted, 32 people have been arrested and 15 people injured. The strike has disrupted much of Spain’s automotive and transportation sector.
With one in four Spaniards unemployed, support for Spain’s trade unions has decreased over the years because of their inability to prevent this high unemployment rate. Additionally, the unions are also criticized for relying on government subsidies rather then member contribution.
Regardless of the support that Spain’s workers are able to garner, this upheaval has proven significant and highlights some of the common problems various other workers in Europe are facing.
Strikes in Italy center on similar issues of unemployment and budget cuts, while the unrest in Greece has demonstrated some of the most violence seen in Europe since the start of the Euro crisis.
Other strikes can be seen across Europe on Wednesday as other labor groups rallied to demonstrate support for their Southern European counterparts in what they deem a “European Day of Action and Solidarity.” Belgian rail workers have staged a walkout that resulted in disruptions in train services and more than 130 demonstrations were staged in France.