Spain was hit with a massive General Strike today (March 29th) that shut down shopping centers, roads and transportation hubs. Barricades of burning tires were erected in Barcelona, hundreds of airline flights were canceled across the nation, and an estimated 91% of all employees at large businesses stayed home or took the streets, according to El Pais.
Spain’s General Strike could not have come at a more significant moment from the perspective of the global people’s movement. As ROAR magazine points out, Spain’s General Strike was initially called for by the anarcho-syndicalist CNT union but it was ultimately a success because the call was taken up and powered by the youthful militancy of the indignados whose encampments across Spain in May, 2011 inspired #OCCUPYWALLSTREET. It was the tactical breakthrough of seizing a public square and holding horizontal, consensus-based assemblies that launched Occupy. And now, as the Occupy movement prepares for its own much anticipated General Strike on May 1, the indignados are again showing us the way.
The strike coincided with a planned vote on a new austerity budget. The original call came from the anarcho-syndicalist CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo: see Murray Bookchin’s The Spanish Anarchists for extensive historical background), and was widely supported by members of the decentralized indignados movement. Unions reported that 77 percent of Spain’s workers struck on Thursday, including 97 percent of industry, transport and construction employees; demand for electricity was down by 15 percent. There’s an excellent background story, with photos and video, at http://roarmag.org/2012/03/general-strike-spain-rajoy-austerity/.