Spaniards prepare for transport disruptions, as a strike protesting the governement's austerity measures begins.
SPAIN-STRIKE - Pickets and police clashed at a bus depot in Madrid Wednesday morning, in the first hours of a general strike to protest the Spanish government's austerity measures.
The protesters tried to stop the buses from leaving the depot, to prevent them from providing a minimum level of public transport during the strike.
JULIO NOVILLO, A MEMBER OF MADRID´S CCOO SAYING:
"We are trying to delay the start of the minimum services as much as possible, because minimum services was imposed by the local Madrid government sabotaging the workers' right to strike, so we are delaying departures as much as possible."
The Spanish government says reforms are necessary to stop the country from sliding into a debt crisis.
Unpopular measures include plans to make hiring and firing cheaper, and delaying the retirement age two years, to 67.
Pickets arrived early at Madrid airport, where a minimum of 20-40 per cent of international flights are expected during the day and strikers hoped for a good turnout.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE TRANSPORT STRIKER, SAYING:
"So far, we hope that many comrades keep joining the strike because the more people, the better and I hope the government realises that the people of this country are getting tired of their policies."
At least a quarter of train services will run, rising to 30 per cent during peak hour.
While the strike is not expected to change government policy, unions are determined to show their displeasure.
A poll found that although 58 per cent of Spaniards thought the strike was justified, only 9 per cent said they would definitely take part.
However some analysts thought participation levels would be much higher, causing significant disruption in large cities.
Kirsty Basset, Reuters.
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