Hundreds of protesters in the capitals of Italy and Spain have waged rallies to demand higher wages as well as a halt to the shipment of weapons to Ukraine.
While calling for peace in the Ukraine conflict, the Italian protesters on Friday further demanded from the ruling right-wing government in Rome a wage increase of 300 euros per month as well as a minimum wage of at least 10 euros per hour.
TV and Social media footage of the rally showed protesters marching with flags, banners, and signs, such as ‘Work to live, not live to work’ and ‘Don’t ask, pretend.’
Similar rallies were also waged in other Italian cities, disrupting local transportation as well as schools, according to local media outlets.
One of the participants in the rally blamed what she described as the government’s “warmongering policies” for the country’s economic problems, high inflation, and persisting low wages.
“We are in a crisis that has no end since the austerity that began in 2008. The value of wages has lost 30 percent and Italy is the country that grows the least,” said National Coordinator of the USB Union Paolo Leonardi as quoted in local press reports.
Italian protesters waged similar protest rallies last year, demanding a halt to Rome’s weapons shipments to Ukraine. Thousands of Italians also took part in demonstrations across the country on the first anniversary of the Ukraine conflict, slamming Western sanctions against Russia and Italy’s persisting military aid to Kyiv.
This is while Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has declared that Rome will stick with pro-Kyiv policies of the US-led NATO military alliance and will not change its anti-Moscow position in the Ukraine conflict.
A NATO member, Italy has been providing weapons to Kyiv since the conflict began in February 2022.
Meanwhile, consumer prices in Italy climbed by a whopping 8.1 percent in 2022, hitting a 37-year high, due to soaring energy and food costs linked primarily to the Ukraine conflict.
Spain teachers and healthcare workers protest low wages
Meanwhile, in Spain, hundreds of teachers and healthcare professionals also joined forces on Friday with two rallies in front of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education in the capital Madrid, demanding a 35-hour working week and better working conditions.
The protesters carried signs reading, ‘Health and education, no to privatization’ and ‘More investment in education’ while chanting, “No, no, no, no, we don’t want to pay your debt with health and education” as they marched through the streets of Madrid.
Nearly 78,000 professionals of the Madrid Health Service and 54,000 teachers were called to strike asking among other things, to bring back the 35-hour working week, which was changed over a decade ago.
According to local press reports, the strike was organized two days prior to the country-wide municipal and regional elections on May 28. It was called for by several unions and institutions such as the Trade Union Confederation of Workers’ Commissions (CC.OO.), General Union of Workers (UGT), Spanish Trade Union of Nursing Professionals (SATSE), and CSIT Union Professional in an attempt to improve working conditions for both teachers and medical employees.
“That is our fundamental demand (the 35-hour week), to reverse the cuts in this area, because the teachers in Madrid are oversaturated in terms of their working day, their timetables and their calendar, and they also suffer the greatest overcrowding in the classrooms,” said Isabel Galvin, Spokesperson of Confederation of the Workers’ Commissions.
Tens of thousands of Spanish health workers had rallied earlier this year in the country’s capital, Madrid, decrying what they called the regional government’s destructive public health policies.
The protesters warned that the government’s plans would “destroy” local healthcare.
Ukraine’s war has caused a rise in energy and food prices, leading to inflation and a high cost of living across Europe, which has resulted in protests and strikes in different European cities.