Students Join Spain’s Massive General Strike

On March 29, 2012, the entire Spanish nation united in a general 24 hour strike to protest sweeping austerity measures and general dissatisfaction with the labor market. While the numbers of protestors are difficult to verify, Spanish media outlets report that depending on the location up to 85 percent of public education personnel, including faculty, participated in the strike.

Students also took to the streets with groups of dissatisfied youth stopping traffic around the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. In Madrid, students staged a sit-in at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid to protest labor reform that they argue robs them of their future. The reforms are a blow to Spanish youth who find themselves in a precarious labor market. More and more college-educated Spaniards feel that they have no choice but to look for work abroad.

While the general strike was organized and carried out by laborers and professionals from all areas, student union leaders insist that the student movement is protesting in solidarity with the labor movement and that student strikes complement the other general strikes around Spain.

Universities around Spain are organizing against austerity measures in other ways as well. In Valencia, one of the regions most affected by education cuts, students and professors created the Platform in Defense of Public Education, which is now operating in most of the local universities.