Protesters gather during a demonstration against regional government-imposed austerity plans to restructure and part-privatize health care sector in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012.

Andres Kudacki, Associated Press

Spain's unions to stage countrywide protests

  • Associated Press
  • December 17, 2012 - 5:34 AM

MADRID - Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to pack the streets of Spanish cities in evening protests against the conservative government's anti-crisis austerity measures.

The demonstrations Monday have been called by the main labor unions and dozens of social groups. They are to take place in 55 cities. Union leaders are to head what is expected to be the largest march in Madrid.

Cutbacks in health, education and pensions as well as labor and financial sector reforms have angered Spaniards and triggered protests by nearly every sector of society in recent years.

The demonstrations are the first coordinated ones since unions staged a partially successful general strike Nov. 14.

Spain, with 25 percent unemployment, is battling to reduce its deficit and emerge from its second recession in three years.

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