Spain confirms recession a day after strike, protests

Spain announced today it has moved into a second year of a job-killing recession, a day after millions joined anti-austerity strikes and vast protests.

Spain's gross domestic product shrank by 0.3 per cent in the quarter, National Statistics Institute data showed, meaning the eurozone's third-largest economy has been shrinking for 15 months.

Over the year, economic output slumped 1.6 per cent, said the data, which confirmed earlier estimates of a persistent slump in Spain, crippled by a 2008 property market crash.

Spain's UGT union seized on the news to batter the government's budget-cutting policies, which sparked a general strike and vast protests in Spain as part of a Europe-wide day of action yesterday.

"They show how the government's policies are sinking us in an abyss of economic depression, massive unemployment and social inequality," said the UGT, which organised the strike along with the major CCOO union.

"Nothing is getting better, the situation is getting worse, and the government is showing a total inability to get us out of the crisis," it said in a statement.

Miserable economic activity has left Spain with an unemployment rate of 25 per cent, topped only in the eurozone by Greece with a jobless ratio of 25.1 per cent, the highest in the industrialized world.

Scarce jobs, sharp tax rises, and severe public spending cuts including in health care and education prompted general strikes in Portugal and Spain and stoppages in Greece and Italy yesterday.

General strikes in Spain -- where unions claimed many millions abided by the action -- and Portugal, paralysed swathes of industries and hit road, rail and air transport.

It was the broadest coordinated European industrial action since the crisis broke out, unions said.

The government said about 820,000 joined the protests across Spain, but unions estimated their number at more than one million in the Spanish capital alone.

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