Spain is in turmoil as it faces its first general strike in more than eight years. Unions across the country are protesting austerity measures adopted by the government. Several flights from London cancelled as Europe shares Spain’s pain.

Spain finds itself amidst first general strike in the country in eight years. The strike which is going to last 24-hour started today with the Spanish workers disrupting the broadcasts and transport throughout the nation as the demonstrators plan to march through Brussels in the protest against expenditure cuts by European governments.Unions across the country are protesting against the austerity measures adopted by the government to tame budget deficits across Europe. Apart from Spain, various other countries in the continent are planning protests, as stated by the European Trade Union Confederation.

Hordes of protesters intend to march through the city of Brussels ahead of the all important meeting between the union members and European Commission President Jose Barroso.

Two of the biggest Spanish unions claimed that more than 70 percent of the workers will join the strike, including over 80 percent in the air industry and nearly 60 percent in the energy sector.

The Spanish unions are protesting against the Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez for bringing about the deepest budget reductions in nearly 30 years and weakening job security in order to cut high unemployment rate. The prime minister was forced to narrow down the budget shortfall after the demands from investors and other European partners.

Authorities across Europe are opting for austerity measures to restrain budget deficits. Leaders throughout the continent have implemented stimulus programs to pull their countries out of the great economic recession. Furthermore, French unions prepare to protest against the Government’s plan to increase the retirement age after two strikes previously this month.

Impact of the Strike

Various facets of Spanish life are expected to be affected as a result of this strike. Telemadrid, television station of the regional government of Madrid has stopped broadcasting. Newspaper kiosks were closed throughout central Madrid and more than 20 flights at the Frankfurt Airport were cancelled because of the strike.

Trains Disrupted

Only about a quarter of local train services will operate which is in accordance with the minimum service agreement. Local authorities at Madrid claimed that more than 70 percent of its underground trains were operational, whereas the union puts the figure at 20 percent. Bus depots were blocked and the trucks were stopped from transporting goods to wholesale markets.

Holidaymakers Hassled Because of the Strike

Families and individuals who are travelling to and from Spain will face prolonged delays and likely flight cancellations as the airport staff members join the general strike. The development takes place just after a week of similar action by French employees.

The Spanish law makes it mandatory that at least one out of five European flights must operate in order to meet service regulations. However, with nearly 700 scheduled flights, the travellers are going to face a huge crisis as only around 200 of those scheduled flights are likely to take off. Passengers are advised to be patient, not to panic and to expect disruption in their flight schedule. Numerous airlines, including the British Airways, cautioned travellers of commotion and recommended them to check respective websites for more information as several flights from London are expected to be cancelled.

Iberia, the national flagship carrier of Spain, expects to operate approximately 30 percent of its scheduled flights as most the ground crew and air traffic control staff is expected to honour the strike.

In the United Kingdom, the Cardiff Airport has cancelled bmibaby flights between Malaga and Alicante and has announced delays on flights due to Antalya and Fuerteventura. Whereas, Ryanair, the low cost carrier, stated that it would operate only hand-luggage flights to and from Spain. The airline offers the option of changing bookings from checked-in to hand luggage to its travellers.

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