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News > World

In Spain Thousands Demand ‘Decent Pensions’

  • Pensioners have demanded higher pensions in several protests this month.

    Pensioners have demanded higher pensions in several protests this month. | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 February 2018

One protester explained, we protest "because they have no right to do this, they are impoverishing us."

Thousands upon thousands of retirees demonstrated in the main squares of over 40 cities across Spain, including Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Seville to protect the public pension system, to demand "decent pensions" and denounce an increase of 0.25 percent in their benefits, which they've called "ridiculous."  

Spanish Socialist Party Denounces Rajoy's Labor Reforms

In Madrid, demonstrators blocked the entrance to the Spanish Congress after breaking the police barrier that blocked their access. At its entrance they chanted: “What a shame, what a shame! They steal from us!” Since a reform was passed in 2013, pensioners have lost purchasing power, and according to protesters, the government of Mariano Rajoy has nearly emptied the social security reserve fund.  

As police forces tried to stop them from moving forward, protesters yelled: “We are pensioners, not terrorists!”  

The tweet reads: “It’s not Venezuela. It’s Spain. They are not a horde of criminals hired to destabilize the country. They are our elderly, flooding the streets to protest in defense of a decent pension system and to demand the government’s president steps down. Respect.”

This and previous protests over pensions were organized by the State Coordinator in Defense of the Public System and received the support of Spain’s main worker's unions, including the Workers' General Union and the Workers' Commissions. 

Unions are concerned over government plans to promote private pension plans in detriment of public pensions and are demanding Congress "to break the political blockade by PP (Popular Party) and Ciudadanos (Citizens Party) to change current pension legislation.

The demonstrations transcend party line and ideological preferences. In Valencia, a 63-year-old retiree, Rafael Alfonso, who presented himself as “apolitical” said he was protesting “because there is no right to do this, they are impoverishing us. An increase of 0.25 percent is a mockery of the people who have given their blood for this country to rise.”  

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