Spanish workers demand higher wages to ease inflation pinch

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MADRID (AP) — Thousands of Spanish workers staged a protest march in Madrid on Thursday called by Spain’s main unions to demand higher wages to offset the soaring cost of living.

Members of the UGT and CCOO unions marched in the Spanish capital under the slogan “Wage or conflict”. Unions want the Spanish government and business leaders to agree to raise the minimum wage above the current 1,000 euros ($987) a month in response to runaway inflation that has only recently begun to slow .

“Today, unfortunately, due to the situation we are facing, salaries do not cover our basic needs,” said walker Carmen Troyano, 55.

Like other countries, Spain has seen price increases driven by rising fuel costs which Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated by causing supply cuts. Rising food prices in Europe have sparked protests across the continent. Interest rate hikes, used by monetary authorities to reduce inflation, also pushed up mortgage payments.

Catholic charity Caritas released a report on Thursday concluding that three in 10 Spanish families lack the financial resources to maintain “dignified living conditions”.

Inflation in Spain peaked this summer at 10.8% in July and moderately slowed to 7.3% in October.

The president of the Spanish association of business owners CEOE, which negotiates with unions and the government on wages, said there could be increases as long as they were not indexed directly to inflation.

“We are not saying no to salary increases,” CEOE chief Antonio Garamendi told Spanish national radio. “(But) what we can’t approve of is pay rises in line with inflation.”

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