Spanish trade unions have called on the central government to change its labour reform plans after a day of strikes that have been largely described as not as widespread, or 'general', as expected (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Under the motto, 'Rectification now', union leaders ended the day of stoppage action with another call to José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to amend his government's economic policy and stop the approved changes to labour law that were the inspiration behind the organisation of yesterday's general strike. The unions were happy with the extent of the strike, with the leaders of the two main unions CGT and CCOO both describing it as an "emphatic success" and saying that it had support from around 70 percent of Spanish workers. However, the Spanish Employment Minister Celestine Corbacho described support for the strike as "uneven" and "moderate", and said that it was a "normal day" in many respects. Figures from the government say that only 7.52 percent of workers from the state administration took part in the strike, 23.8 percent from public sector businesses and 12 percent from local administration bodies.
The centre of Barcelona saw violent demonstrations, looting and attacks on the police during the day of the general strike (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Self-proclaimed 'anti-system' groups were responsible for the chaos witnessed in the city centre, which saw a Guardia Urbana patrol car, as well as rubbish containers and bins, set on fire. A group tried to force its way into the Corte Inglés department store in Plaça Catalunya, which had to be protected by police and one entrance temporarily closed. The windows of local bank branches and shop were graffitied and broken and looters stole jeans from the Levis shop on Gran Via as well as cash from the till. In the afternoon, following disturbances in the morning, including the burning of the patrol car at around 1pm in Carrer Pelai, agents from the Catalan police force entered the former Bank of Spain headquarters in Plaça Catalunya to evict a group of squatters who had been occupying the building since the weekend, and were using it as a base to organise their actions yesterday. The organisers made it clear that they didn't support the strike action of the unions, who they described as "traitors and sell-outs", and they tried to disrupt the official trade union demonstration on Passeig de Gràcia. Confrontations between the protestors and the police also took place in Via Laietana and at the cathedral square. There were around 40 arrests in Barcelona and 10 more around Catalunya.
Also in the news: Moody's demotes Spain's sovereign debt rating (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico); Barça struggle against Rubin Kazan to get one-all draw in Champions League (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Cyclist Albert Contador suspended while positive drug test from this year's Tour de France investigated (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico).