30 Mar 2012

Clashes mark one-day strike in Spain

7:14 pm on 30 March 2012

Spanish police have clashed with demonstrators on the day of a general strike called to protest against government changes to Spain's labour laws.

At least nine people were injured and about 50 arrested in demonstrations in the capital, Madrid, Barcelona and other major cities.

According to the BBC, most of the protests were peaceful but some protestors in Barcelona hurled rocks at bank offices and shop fronts and a branch of the American-based coffee chain Starbucks was reportedly set on fire.

Television pictures showed police fired tear gas and shot rubber bullets at the ground in response.

And in Madrid, scuffles broke out with police when demonstrators picketed the bus depot.

The government is to unveil a series of measures on Friday aimed at saving tens of billions of euros.

They include measures making it easier for employers to sack people or cut their pay, a move the government says is aimed at reducing the unemployment rate.

Unemployment in Spain is currently stands at 23% - the highest in the EU.

Nearly half of Spaniards under the age of 25 are out of work.