Spanish workers demand higher wages to ease inflation pinch

MADRID (AP) — Thousands of workers on Thursday attended a protest march in Madrid called by Spain’s major labor unions to demand higher wages to offset the higher cost of living fueled by global inflation.

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 a month in reponse 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,” marcher Carmen Troyano, 55, said.

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.

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 were not 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.”

The Associated Press