24 Feb 2010

Protests in Spain over spending cuts

2:03 pm on 24 February 2010

Thousands of workers have protested in Spain's major cities against government spending cuts and plans to raise the retirement age by two years to 67.

In January, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist government announced 50bn euro spending cuts and a civil service hiring freeze.

Spain faces a large budget deficit, a sluggish economy and high unemployment, the BBC reports.

The main demonstration was in Madrid, where union officials said 60,000 protested. Police put the crowd at a much smaller 9,000 people.

Mr Zapatero also wants to change Spain's rigid labour laws to make it easier and cheaper to hire workers.