Strike in Madrid called off

Written by By Irfan Akmal, CNN

Left-leaning metal workers in the Spanish capital have called off their strike after striking demands were met, according to reports.

The Workers Union of Workers in the Metals and Automotive industry announced that seven unions had called off their strike earlier this week in order to get Spain’s unemployment rate down — something which labor groups said was necessary for them to be able to remain in business.

It’s hoped that continued negotiations will allow the unions to draw a line under the conflict, which saw thousands of workers rally at El Valle Air Base in Madrid on Thursday as part of the protest.

By late Friday, the mediation process had seemingly reached a stalemate, causing the anger and frustration which had been building to boil over.

Despite some unions giving an ultimatum of Saturday at 8 a.m. to continue negotiations or end the strike, most of the blocs representing the striking workers dropped the strike earlier on Friday.

Strike breakdown

Friday’s session was not the first time that negotiations to bring an end to the industrial dispute have failed.

The dispute began in February when workers’ unions took issue with the incoming liberalisation of labor laws which will allow companies to dismiss workers before being held accountable for the reason behind the dismissal.

The unions also want the Spanish government to ease the retirement age for industrial workers, so they can retire at 60 instead of 62.

“The change we are seeking is the relaxation of collective bargaining mechanisms to soothe the headaches of the owners,” said Dejo Perdomo, president of the Mayoral Union of Metal Workers in the Industry in a statement.

“We believe we can overcome this dilemma in the short term … however, no solution has been agreed to until today.”

It’s unclear whether all elements of the agenda have been agreed to by all parties, but the chairman of the Greens’ party, Esperanza Aguirre, has said she backs the unions’ calls.

“The calls have come from a wide range of workers and we are happy to continue negotiating the details,” according to a joint statement released on Friday.

“There has been no agreement that we are aware of today … our activities will continue,” said the union coalition representing the eight unions in the striking metalworkers.

“If after all the negotiations tomorrow we are still at the same place, the next day, we shall have to do everything to make sure our demands are implemented in full.”

With the strike breaking down, a number of Spanish business associations have spoken out against the strike.

The Regional Confederation of Industry, Commerce and Tourism and the Chamber of Commerce wrote a joint letter saying that “strikes only provoke black days in the production of products.”

The Director General of the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Competitiveness, Jose Manuel Soria, said that while the strikes were not good for Spanish industry, the strike was “not the central issue.”

“This is a solution of a very specific type of industrial conflict which, as for most of the country, has not been affected by international uncertainty,” Soria said.

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