Spanish workers demand rise in wages to combat soaring inflation

Trade unions in Spain have alleged that “employers and their organizations are making a reckless and suicidal bet on devaluation and wage freezes”

November 04, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Workers Protest - Spain
Mobilization in Madrid. (Photo: via CCOO)

On Thursday, November 3, Spanish workers under the leadership of trade unions organized a massive mobilization in Madrid, demanding an increase in wages at par with the soaring inflation. The mobilization was called by unions including the Workers’ Commissions (CCOO) and the General Union of Workers (UGT). More than 50,000 people participated in the protest stating that “This crisis is not paid for by the working class, salary or conflict!” Members of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) and Communist Youth Union of Spain (UJCE) also participated in the march and expressed their support and solidarity with the workers.

As is the case in many other parts of Europe, workers and low-income households across Spain are facing an acute cost of living crisis marked by soaring prices of food and fuel. Trade unions in Spain have alleged that “employers and their organizations are making a reckless and suicidal bet on devaluation and wage freezes.” The parties in the incumbent government coalition – the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) – have stated that while the government had raised pensions, social benefits and salaries of employees and civil servants, the employers have been blocking collective bargaining and rise in workers’ wages in the private sector.  

On Thursday, while addressing the mobilization in Madrid, UGT’s Pepe Álvarez stated, “this mobilization aims to ensure that the Spanish employers are fully aware that our slogan salary or conflict is not a joke. Where there has been conflict, we have obtained wages and dozens of agreements have been signed with increases that allow workers to maintain their purchasing power, in companies with great benefits and with fewer benefits.”

Unai Sordo from the CCOO said, “Today, Spain has inflation that is being contained because of intervention in the energy market, but the underlying inflation is already at 6.4% because companies have passed prices on to the shopping basket to safeguard their profits, preventing millions of workers from making ends meet.”

Earlier in June this year, a cap on the price of natural gas used in power generation was introduced in Spain in order to lower electricity bills. But several sections within the working class are unsatisfied as the government has been providing huge amounts of money to energy monopolies to cover their loss in profits due to the cap on gas prices.

The Communist Party of Workers of Spain (PCTE) stated that “in the face of the increase in wealth of 11% of Spain’s billionaires, we have an inflation of more than 5% and an increase in prices by 10%. They’re richer because they exploit us more.”