MADRID – Spain's main trade unions on Friday called a general strike for Nov. 14, coinciding with similar work stoppages in Portugal and Greece, to protest government-imposed austerity measures and labor reforms.
The general strike called by the Workers' Commissions and General Workers' unions will be the second in Spain this year. A partially successful stoppage was held March 29.
Fernando Lezcano, the spokesman for the Workers' Commissions, said it would be the first ever joint general strike in Iberian neighbors Spain and Portugal.
The General Workers' union in a statement said the strike was called to press for a change in government policy because "cuts are strangling the economy and dismantling our social model."
Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the strike would do nothing to lower unemployment, which she said was Spain's biggest problem.
"This strike does not help either workers or the unemployed," she said. "We do not believe the best way to create jobs is to invite people not to work."
Spain is in its second recession in three years and has near 25 percent unemployment. The tax hikes, spending cuts and labor reforms are aimed at convincing investors and international authorities the country can manage its finances without a need for a full-blown bailout.
Spain's public finances have been overwhelmed by the cost of rescuing some of its banks and regional governments, many of which have suffered heavy losses in Spain's property sector crash in 2008.
On Friday, the Balearic islands and the northern province of Asturias became the seventh and eighth regions to ask for financial help. The islands will request €355 million ($462.7 million) from the central government's €18 billion ($23.5 billion) rescue fund for the regions, while Asturias will seek €261.
Catalonia, whose capital is Barcelona, has asked for €5 billion, Andalusia €4.9 billion, Valencia €4.5 billion, Castilla-La Mancha €848 million, the Canary Islands €756 million and Murcia €641 million.
Meanwhile, the government of the heavily indebted eastern region of Valencia on Friday approved a measure announced in May to lay off at least 3,000 public service employees — 40 percent of its workforce — to make savings of about €300 million ($391 million).