Above Photo: EPA
Nationwide protests supported by unions took over the streets on Saturday to defend workers’ rights.
Thousands of retired people and supporters took over the streets in several cities in Spain on Saturday to demand “decent” pensions of at least 1,080 Euros a month, and yearly updates according, to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
The protests started in Bilbao, capital of the Basque country, in January as a weekly demonstration and spread to over 200 cities and towns across the Spanish State, supporting other movements along the way.
They were organized by the State Coordinator for the Defense of the Public Pension System under the slogans “whoever is ruling, pensions must be defended,” and “Our future: there’s no solution without mobilization!”
More than 25,000 people gathered on Saturday in Bilbao and a similar number protested in Madrid, where people chanted “old but not fool” and “decent pensions now!” Some of the demonstrators are wearing yellow vests, emulating the massive protests in France that forced President Emmanuel Macron to backtrack on a proposed fuel tax.
In Bilbao the protest was supported by the unions Solidarity of Basque Workers (ELA), the Nationalist Workers’ Committees (LAB) and the Workers’ Commissions of Euskadi (CCOO).
“With our work we have built a Pensions Public System based on contributions and we won’t let banks, insurance companies and investment funds to take them away from us with the private pension plans,” the coordinator declared in a public statement read by demonstrators nationwide.
In Madrid, the coordinator’s spokesperson Leopoldo Pelayo declared that the political parties have not been able to solve the “fundamental problems” of the retired workers, who are demanding decent pensions that increase according to real inflation, all the while criticizing the two-party ruling system dominated by the People’s Party (PP) and the Spanish Socialists Workers’ Party (PSOE).
The retired workers have gone a long way. In February, demonstrators showed their strength and protested the “ridiculous” increase of pensions by 0.25 percent.