Labor rage: Arrests as General Strike locks Spain29 March, 2012
At least 58 people have been arrested and nine injured in Spain, as thousands take part in a general strike and rally against recent labor reforms. Flag-waving protesters fear the decree will undo employers’ hands and thus rob them of their rights.
The 24-hour general strike began before dawn, as well as pickets and sporadic clashes with police. Most of those arrested were detained in the early hours after trying to stop night shift workers getting to their jobs on public transport, in factories and wholesale markets.
Demonstrators burnt mattresses, tyres and other debris in an attempt to keep workers from their jobs. A Molotov cocktail was even thrown at a police car in the eastern city of Murcia. The car was destroyed and two officers were injured by the flames.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled, several local TV stations went off air, and several factories shut down for the day, including the Nissan and Seat facilities in Catalonia. Hospitals provided only minimal care, while at least a third of public transport was halted.
Major demos are to take place later in the evening as more people finish work.
Unions claim over 250,000 people will join the strike and demonstrations in more than 100 towns and cities across the country.
"They want to end labor and social rights and finish off everything" is the theme of Thursday’s protest in Spain.
The anger was triggered by the recent labor decree, approved last month as a law with immediate effect. The Cabinet says the updated legislation will bring flexibility to the workplace and simplify rules for employers.
Protesters fear the actual effect will make the sacking of workers cheaper and quicker. They say with the new legislation bosses will be able to cut wages or change other working conditions just by citing concerns over profits.
"This is a just response to a brutal reform of our system of labor relations," said Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, leader of the CCOO, which is one of the two main trade unions in Spain along with the UGT. more
And under the heading of "we gotta try SOMETHING" we see some of Spain's high-end escorts are attempting a new version of the old Lysistrata strategy.
And Portugal's mess just continues to worsen. That means the whistling past the graveyard just gets louder. The austerity ghouls still think they have a "solution." Now you can understand why it took so long for bleeding to fall into medical disfavor.
High-End Escorts In Spain Are Denying Services To Bankers Until They Start Giving Out More LoansMar. 28, 2012
High-end escorts in Madrid are on strike—against the banking industry.
A Spanish trade group for high-end escorts has announced they will be denying services to bankers until they start extending loans to families and small to medium-sized companies, Russia Today reported last week.
Here's how this came about:
It all started with one of the ladies who forced one of her clients to grant a line credit and a loan simply by halting her sexual services until he “fulfills his responsibility to society.”
The trade association's spokeswoman praised their success by stressing the government and the Bank of Spain have previously failed to adjust the credit flow.
"We are the only ones with a real ability to pressure the sector," she stated. “We have been on strike for three days now and we don't think they can withstand much more.”
Apparently, the bankers have been so desperate that they have resorted to pretending to be of other professions and even calling the government for mediation assistance. more
Not the Next GreeceOf course, there is always the "solution" of young people voting with their feet. This works for some of the young and energetic. It doesn't solve much in the long run.
Portugal Can Still Turn the Corner in Debt CrisisAn Analysis by Stefan Schultz 03/23/2012
Pimco CEO Mohamed El-Erian has warned that debt-ridden Portugal will become a second Greece and may also need a private-sector haircut. But he is exaggerating: Lisbon is forging ahead with its reform efforts, and the country has every chance of getting its finances under control.
Portugal's prime minister is receiving dubious praise these days. "É uma pessoa boa demais," commentators say of Pedro Passos Coelho -- he's too good a person. Not too good for this country plagued by economic crisis and debt, but too good for the troika, the triumvirate made up of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB), which saved Portugal from national bankruptcy with a €78 billion ($103 billion) bailout and in exchange demands tough austerity measures and structural reforms.
It's true the conservative head of state expects more of his citizens than the troika has even asked. He pushed through an austerity package, lowered salaries to make companies more competitive, privatized state-owned enterprises and cut unemployment benefits as well as payments for overtime and severance pay.
Passos Coelho has even done away with holidays that many of his citizens hold dear: Corpus Christi and Assumption Day, as well as two public holidays celebrating Portugal's separation from union with Spain and the declaration of its first republic. It's time, the prime minister says, to change "lazy and at times self-involved patterns of behavior."
These efforts have made Portugal a poster child for the austerity watchdogs in Brussels. The country is "on the right path," declared EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn.
In fact, it would seem there's a light at the end of the tunnel -- if it weren't for Mohamed El-Erian, CEO of Pimco.
Is it inevitable that Portugal will become a second Greece over the course of this year? "Yes, unfortunately that will be the case," El-Erian told SPIEGEL in an interview this week. The first bailout package for Portugal will prove insufficient, he believes, and the country will ask for more money, which in turn will likely trigger a debate over a Greek-style haircut involving the private sector. On the whole, El-Erian considers the situation "dramatic."
Those words carry weight, because El-Erian is not just anyone. Pimco is the world's largest bond investor and manages over $1.3 trillion. So in response, both Portugal's prime minister and those overseeing the EU bailout have felt a need to emphasize over the last few days that there will be no further aid, and that Portugal will save itself.
But can that work? Not too long ago, the troika was saying similar things about Greece. But repeated radical austerity programs flung Athens' economy into a deep recession, and the mountain of debt continued to grow.
Portugal too has been experiencing an extended downturn. Its economy hasn't grown in seven quarters and is even expected to shrink by over 3 percent this year. State debt has swelled to around 102 percent of GDP, and according to Eurostat, the EU's statistical agency, unemployment is at nearly 15 percent and rising. There's no question Portugal is suffering a serious crisis and there's good reason for concern that the country will drive itself into the ground with austerity measures, as Greece did. more
Hunt for Skilled Labor
Germany Woos Portugal's Lost GenerationBy Christoph Pauly 03/28/2012
The crisis-hit nations of southern Europe have one booming industry left -- their skilled workers are in high demand in Germany, which has a chronic shortage of qualified labor. German employers in search of nurses and engineers have launched a recruitment drive in Portugal, where over a third of young people are unemployed.
Helena Mourão was lucky she didn't lose her job until this January. She was able to work as a nurse for a full two years after completing her schooling, which makes her a sought-after employee -- although not in her native country.
No fewer than four German employers were eager to hire the Portuguese nurse. She chose a hospital group called Klinikverbund Südwest in Sindelfingen, southern Germany, which handed her an employment contract to sign, written in German and Portuguese, during her interview. "There are several hospitals there, which gives me more career opportunities," explains 25-year-old Mourão.
Mourão has since signed the contract and will move to Germany in May. Her boyfriend, a civil engineer, stands beside her and smiles bravely. He's looking for a job too, preferably in Germany.
Mourão and over 100 other nurses have come to Porto to attend the first job fair held jointly by Germany's and Portugal's employment agencies. Young Portuguese workers are currently the most sought-after export from their crisis-ridden country. They are setting out into the world because of a lack of opportunities at home.
German employers are thrilled. "These are top people with a good education," says nursing manager Joachim Erhardt. Since the new arrivals don't speak German, the hospital group in Sindelfingen is paying for their first six months of room and board, as well as an intensive language course in Stuttgart. more