Spanish trade unions hope to bring cities and towns to a standstill tomorrow with the general strike against the government's planned employment reforms (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). They yesterday finalised their plans for action in the major cities and industrial estates of the country, which are their main targets for the stoppage. Plans have been made, similar to those developed in the last Spanish general strike which took place in 2002, for union representatives to create pickets at key points in the big cities, such as shopping centres and department stores, with the aim of making the action more visible to the general population, as well as to ensure that the agreed minimum services are fulfilled. The unions say that the majority of those taking part in these pickets are members of or linked to workers' organisations, and will be led by people with a 'moderate' profile within the unions. However, businesses and shop-owners have criticised the presence of these groups, saying that they can be intimidating. Some groups are due to start strike action this evening, such as postal workers and rubbish collectors.
Barcelona's Las Ramblas street is to see various changes in the coming months, as the city council attempts to improve its image in advance of next year's municipal elections (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). While the stalls selling animals, birds and insects on the world-famous avenue have already been converted to craft stalls, other initiatives will see those cafés with terraces all having the same style of chairs, tables and parasols, and a restriction on the number of human statues performing on the street as well as the area in which they are allowed to be. At a meeting on October 7th, the district council is due to approve a plan that will limit the number of street artists to 15, working in two shifts, and stop them being able to perform in the upper section of the Rambla. According to the president of the Association of Friends, Neighbours and Businesses of the Rambla, Ramón Lamazares, this plan has been developed over the past year and will come into force before the end of 2010. It could be a blow for those who bring their performances to the street in the hope of earning money from the thousands of tourists who walk there each day; in peak season, up to around 30 human statues can take up a spot on the Rambla.
The US technology company Apple is to open its second Barcelona shop in Plaça Catalunya (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The new opening follows the inauguration earlier this month of Apple's first store in Spain, located in Barcelona's La Maquinista shopping centre. The Plaça Catalunya store, to be located on the corner with Passeig de Gràcia, is due to open within the next month in a space once occupied by the ground floor of the city's headquarters for Banesto bank; it has changed hands five times in the past seven years. Apple will pay around €3.8 million a year in rent for the shop and has signed a 10-year rental contract.
Also in the news: Generalitat to review 80 kilometre per hour speed limit (read article in Catalan here, Avui); Barcelona to host 2013 world swimming championships (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico); A thousand Spanish students enrol at Chinese universities (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia).