Madrid street cleaners and gardeners protested on Monday against plans by City Hall to lay off over a thousand workers. Demonstrators chanted “they save bankers and sack workers” and “a job is not for sale, it should be defended.” Signs refering to the Madrid’s mayor read “Botella Out.”
Some 6,600 outdoor maintenance workers joined the walk-out last Tuesday (November 5), after three private companies, contracted by Madrid’s city hall, proposed cutting salaries by up to 40 percent and laying off 1,144 people.
Twenty-two-year-old street cleaner, Eduardo Benitez said: “We are defending what’s ours. We are not asking for more pay or more rights. We are asking for our bread, we are asking for what we deserve, like the honest workers that we are, that’s all.”
Jose Luis Nieto, who was sacked from his cleaning job said : “I have already lost. I was part of the 350 that were sacked and we are protesting about the 1,400 they want to fire.”
Many streets were left with food and rubbish piled up as unions and their contractors failed to find a solution to the conflict which is entering its second week.
Spain has made deep spending cuts in its public services sector to reduce one of the eurozone’s highest budget deficits prompting mass demonstrations.
Unemployment has risen to record levels of more than 26 percent. Almost a third of jobless people in the eurozone live in Spain.