University Students, Coal Miners Strike
MADRID, Spain (AP) _ Students at 39 universities began a five-day strike Monday to protest curriculum changes and coal miners began a three-day walkout against projected layoffs by the government mining company Hunosa.
Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez met with regional leaders of his Socialist Party in an attempt to build support for his unpopular economic policy, which includes limiting pay raises to a 5 percent.
Several organizations called the university strike by about 800,000 students against a reform law Parliament passed 3 1/2 years ago in an attempt to modernize and coordinate curriculums and study programs.
Radio reports said the 72-hour walkout by most of Hunosa’s 21,000 employees paralyzed coal mines in the northern Asturias region. It coincided with the second day of a regional strike called by the Communist Workers Commissions.
Both are in protest of a government reorganization plan for the industry that will cost thousands of jobs.
Communist Party chief Gerardo Iglesias told the conservative daily newspaper ABC that ″all of Spain is today a demonstration of discontent.″
Iglesias accused Gonzalez of remaining aloof from the nation and its problems.
Spain’s unemployment rate of 21.5 percent is the highest in Europe.
Jose Maria Benegas, No.3 in the Socialist Party hierarchy, said at the meeting with regional party leaders that government economic policy is ″fair, correct, progressive and in solidarity with the needs of the people.″
In other labor developments:
-Garbage collectors struck for higher pay in the suburbs of Bilbao, a northern industrial city.
-Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse 200 lead foundry workers in Jaen, a southern city, who demanded an 8 percent pay raise.
-Workers at the National Mint in Madrid, which prints the country’s money and lottery tickets, continued a three-week strike for more pay.