Spanish workers demand higher wages to ease inflation pinch

Thousands of workers have rallied in Madrid in a protest called by Spain’s labor unions to demand higher wages to offset the higher cost of living

MADRID (AP) — Thousands of Spanish workers held a protest march Thursday in Madrid called by Spain’s major labor unions to demand higher wages to offset the soaring cost of living.

Members of the UGT and CCOO unions marched through the Spanish capital under the slogan “Salary or Conflict.” The unions want Spain's government and business leaders to agree to increase the minimum salary above the current 1,000 euros ($987) a month in response to rampant inflation that has only recently started to slow.

“Today, unfortunately, due to the situation we are facing, salaries don’t cover our basic necessities,” said marcher Carmen Troyano, 55.

Like other countries, Spain has seen price increases driven by rising fuel costs that Russia's invasion of Ukraine exacerbated by causing supply reductions. Higher food prices in Europe have sparked protests across the continent. Interest rate hikes, used by monetary authorities to reduce inflation, have also driven up mortgage payments.

The Catholic charity organization Caritas issued a report Thursday that concluded that three out of 10 Spanish families don’t have the financial resources to maintain “dignified living conditions.”

Inflation in Spain peaked this summer at 10.8% in July and moderately slowed to 7.3% in October.

The president of Spain’s CEOE business owners association, which negotiates with labor unions and the government on salaries, said there could be raises as long as they weren't indexed directly to inflation.

“We are not saying no to salary raises,” CEOE leader Antonio Garamendi told Spanish National Radio. “(But) what we cannot sign off on is that salary raises match inflation.”

Credit: Manu Fernandez

Credit: Manu Fernandez

Credit: Manu Fernandez

Credit: Manu Fernandez