Hundreds of thousands of civil servants were protesting yesterday in cities across the country in response to the proposed cuts in their salary (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Workers in Barcelona, Madrid, Zaragoza and Valencia took to the streets to protest against the 5 percent cut to their salaries recently announced in Zapatero's economic austerity plan. In Barcelona, the workers were concentrated around the gates of the Government buildings with members of the unions CC.OO and UGT marching and throwing eggs at the government buildings shouting "Zapatero resign" and "Zapatero cut advisers, not salaries or pensions". The unions have called for the mobilisation of public sectors workers saying that the cuts were "unfair" and they were an "attack on social rights". The Guardia Urbana counted 200 attendees but videos of the march that have been put up on the internet show a significantly higher number of demonstrators. The convening organisations, including the Consejos de Ministros have put the number of protesters at 6,000. The event was also coordinated with similar protests in Tarragona, Lleida and Girona. The two unions UGT and CC.OO have finally decided to move for a general strike on June 8th.
More than 60 writers from the Catalan press have signed a manifesto in defense of the statute (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). A total of 62 writers have signed a joint manifesto in defense of the Estatut de Catalunya and comes six months after a jointly published editorial, entitled 'La dignidad de Catalunya' by virtually all of the Catalan newspaper was published which stated its concern about the possibility of a Constitutional court ruling. The new manifesto runs under the name of El dilema español and argues that "Pacts must be respected, especially when they involve the democratic legitimacy of the citizens. If the institutions and political parties are not able to find a graceful exit to the current situation, the reality will force the Catalans to choose between devolution and secession. The paper warns that "Spain runs the serious risk of accidentally closing a contentious legal action that can only addressed, managed and resolved politically and future-oriented."
The Ayuntament have initiated administrative proceedings against Indra Sistemas, the company awarded the contract for the diagonal consultation voting system (read article in Castilian here, El Pais). The municipality are arguing that a "very serious" breach in contract occurred and they are suspending payment to the company pending a resolution of the matter. The voting process of the consultation cost the city council €3.18 million with €454,000 of that allocated to the cost of the computing platform. In a statement, released the Ayuntament argued that Indra Sistema committed three violations of their contract which involve the non-realisation of the essential obligations of their contract. It is of widely held opinion that the move to allow computerised voting was bold given the experiences the system and company had been used for before. Examples of previous use include the 2002 elections of the Consejo Asesor de Personal de la Guardia Civil however this vote was undertaken using the corporate intranet system. In addition to this, in 2003, El Hoya de Pinares held an internet consultation over a local pilgrimage where 2000 residents voted. In Barcelona, however the figures were somewhat higher; 1.414.783 residents were called to vote but in the end only 12.17 percent of the population placed their vote making the numbers who voted come in at around 172,161 residents.
Also in the news: The vote to ban bullfighting in Catalunya has been postponed until July this year (read article in Catalan, in full here, Avui). The warmer weather has once again highlighted the problem of roadside prostitution in Catalunya with local residents and mayors of places affected protesting about their presence (read article in Castilian, in full here, El Periodico)