Nearly 2.5 million public employees are called to endorse a general strike today as unions and the government say there will be no retreat from public salary cuts (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The government is to stand by its decision to cut the wages of civil servants irrespective of the outcome of the strike action called for today. Sources close to the government point out that the salary cut is part of the new austerity plan being undertaken by the Spanish economy and requires the efforts and collaboration of all of Spain. Union organisers have admitted that they recognise that it would be very difficult for the government to reverse its decision to cut the salaries from between 0.56 to 7 percent from this June. The cuts are expected to save the government over €4,000 million from now and into 2011. The CCOO, UGT and CSI-CSIF unions have called upon nearly 2.5 million employees to second a general strike and in Catalunya this affects around 450,000 people. Alongside the strike, the unions have called for around 60 demonstrations throughout the country - in Barcelona, the event is set to begin at 12 noon from Plaça Universitat. The areas affected include transport, where the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat will run a minimal service from 6.30am to 9.30am in the morning and 5pm to 8pm. Hospitals will work with at least 50 percent of the workforce with the minimum services securing the emergency and special units, chemo or radiotherapy services and inpatient care. Most schools will be open as usual and nurseries must keep 25 percent of their workforce. The government has ordered the maintenance 100 percent of staff on duty in courts and the Ministry of Justice has set a minimum of services which include the work of the civil registry. Police services are forbidden to strike whilst on service.
The Catalan public health services lost a million visits in the first quarter of 2010 (read article in Castilian here, El Pais). Primary consultations fell by 7.8 percent, with pediatric visits falling 13.6 percent and a drop of 4 percent was evident in the emergency departments. For the first time in Catalunya, visits to doctors and the emergency services decreased by more than one million during the first quarter of the year and represents a decrease of 8.8 percent in overall activity in the Catalan Institute of Health (ICS). Perhaps as a direct link to these figures, telephonic medical checks rose by 125 percent in the same period with more than 700,000 calls made to physicians and medical technical assistants. According to Jaume Benavent, the deputy director of Primary Care of the ICS - the fluctuations in the data can be attributed to structural reasons and the fact that this season there was no epidemic of flu. The stemming of migration is also a factor as this has stabilised the number of health cards given out plus during this period electronic prescriptions were introduced. Despite the positive statistics, Benavent commented that Catalunya still has one of the highest ratios of doctors visits, much higher than in Europe so that, as Benavent says, "we must continue efforts to reduce visits, especially in the chronically ill because many of these things could be resolved by phone".
The Dalí Foundation has revealed the material collected over the two years in a bid to reconstruct the painter's life (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The documents acquired in the last two years have cost the foundation €450,000 and include 19 drawings, 24 manuscripts and 60 photographs plus excerpts from a biography of Dalí. Documentation has been collected since 1991 and this has enabled the foundation in Figueres (Alt Empordà) to become an international reference centre for understanding the work of the famous artist - some of the acquisitions will not only serve the foundation but will be made available to students and the general public through exhibitions and publications. Antoni Pitxot, the director of the Centre d'Estudis Dalinians and director of the Teatre-Museu Dalí commented that some of the painters' treasures have been recovered and pointed out a drawing painted for Dalí's sister when she was sick during 1916 and 1917. Years later, in 1930, his drawings show a more erotic element, "this is raw eroticism, incisive, but not participatory. A description of what is happening but as if to take a step back and become a mere observer. The voyeur who liked to be", said Pitxot. Among the manuscripts bought there's correspondence between Dalí and the film director Luis Buñuel and photographs depict natural scenes shared with Buñuel or Gala, Pitxot summarises that "They are pieces of life belonging to Dali and are to be put together like a puzzle to know his work".
Also in the news: The cost of vandalism to Bicing has fallen sharply thanks to improved security with the monthly cost for damage and theft in 2009 coming in at €363,000 while this year it has dropped to €70,000 (read full article in Catalan here, El Punt). American novelist John Irving presents his new novel Last night in Twisted River to Barcelona press yesterday (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico).