Spanish trade unions are hardening their stance in the run-up to the planned general strike on September 29th, as seen at a meeting of Catalan delegates held yesterday (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). With calls for Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to resign at the meeting as well as uncontrolled strikes taking place, such as the one that affected the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat yesterday that offered no minimum service, the unions are showing their hand as the countdown to the planned stoppage continues. "There is a lot of built-up anger amongst workers due to the government's cuts and labour reforms," said a union spokesman taking part in the meeting. Some 4,500 members of the UGT and CCOO unions met at La Farga in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat - a significant meeting-place due to its industrial past and connections with the current Spanish employment minister Celestine Corbacho. Speakers responded to Zapatero's recent announcement of more cuts saying that if he doesn't respond to union demands soon, the 29th will see a major demonstration that will force his hand.
Spanish mayors have asked that the central government provides them with assistance to deal with their debt problems (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The Federación Española de Municipios (FEMP) yesterday unanimously called on the government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to help councils suffering as a result of the current economic crisis; they want the government to adapt the limitations put on the amount of debt that councils can have, set at 75 percent last week. Without directly criticising the recent austerity measures introduced by Zapatero, the representatives of FEMP also called on the Prime Minister to shelve his plans that affect local councils - although the total ban on councils having any debt has now been made more flexible, as FEMP recognises, they asked for more freedom when seeking to re-finance existing debt.
The number of forest fires suffered by Catalunya fell by 90 percent this summer compared to 2009 (read article in Catalan here, Avui). There were just 241 fires during the summer months, which saw 351 hectares of land burnt compared to 3,051 hectares in 399 fires last year. There were fears about the risk of fires this year following the unexpected and heavy snowfall in March, which left many trees in a bad condition and at risk from burning. Although the forest fire 'season' officially finishes today, the Catalan Environmental Department said that people shouldn't lower their guard regarding the risks of fires starting in woodland here. The worst affected area was the Baix Empordà with 83 hectares burnt as a result of 18 fires; the biggest fires took place in Tarragona, Colomers, Olivella and Viladecans.
Also in the news: Barça recover from early goal by Panathinaikos to score five goals in Champions League debut (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Fate of 'bull running' tradition divides governing Catalan parties (read article in Catalan here, Avui); Lleida plans permanent closure of radical mosque (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico).