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Doctors, teachers, taxi drivers go on strike in Spain’s Catalonia

Protesters wave a Catalan pro-independence "Estelada" flag during a rally in Barcelona, Spain, on January 19, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

Thousands of workers have walked out in a five-day strike and taken to the streets in Catalonia to demand more resources for the public sector.

Teachers, taxi drivers, and healthcare workers stopped working on Wednesday, and gathered in the capital, Barcelona, to protest in front of the regional parliament.

Barcelona police estimated that only 6,500 teachers and healthcare workers participated in one strike.

After a series of unproductive negotiations with Minister of Education Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray, the unions Ustec, CCOO and UGT decided to go ahead with the stoppages.  

Ustec has asked the regional government to invest 6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in public education as established by the Education Law of Catalonia. They are also asking that the working conditions of educational professionals be improved.

In another strike, organized by the Metges healthcare union, an estimated 10,000 doctors and nurses staged a protest that began in front of the regional health department.

This is the first such demonstration in Catalonia since 2018.

The health care workers are demanding more resources and personnel for the Catalan public health system and between 25 to 28 patient appointments per work shift of 12 minutes each.

Some 25,000 health professionals from health centers and hospitals across the region have been called to strike.

Meanwhile, thousands of taxi drivers in around 900 vehicles completely cut off one of Barcelona’s main roads for traffic — Gran Via — for hours to protest against digital platforms. The protesters said platforms that make fairs flexible are “killing the taxi” and mainly targeted a platform called Free Now, but also Uber.

At the same time, healthcare workers have been on strike in the Spanish capital, Madrid, for weeks.

Protesters say the regional government is dismantling public health services and favoring private health providers. They say the government in Madrid has reduced the funding of the public healthcare system, which has led to a severe lack of resources and staff in public hospitals.

Madrid’s regional government, led by the Popular Party’s Isabel Ayuso, has come under fire in recent years for poor staffing in hospitals and primary healthcare centers.

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