20 June 2002 18:03 [Source: ICIS news]
MADRID (CNI)--The one-day national strike in Spain drew to a close on Thursday with at least one chemical industry trades union leader vowing to continue campaigning against a new law which reduces unemployment rights and benefits unless the government meets union demands to scrap it.
Luis Franco Poza, a Union General de Trabajadores (UGT) representative of chemical workers in Tarragona, said: "I’m not saying we would call for an all-out strike again, but I can tell you one thing, we are not going to stop."
Spanish government officials weren’t immediately available for comment.
The call for further protest action was made as unions and the government disputed support for today's strike.
The UGT said in a statement that around 87% of chemical workers had joined the strike nationwide. But that number sharply contradicted a government estimate which put it at 16%, calling the strike "a total failure."
Confirming earlier estimates, UGT Tarragona spokeswoman Nuria Pelay said that more than 4500 workers out of 30 000 in Tarragona had participated in the strike.
Those remarks were played down by Tomas Carot, spokesman for Asociacion Empresarial Quimica de Tarragona (AEQT) - which has 30 chemical company members - who said there were "no major problems or incidents" affecting industrial production in Tarragona.
UGT officials in the southern and central cities of Huelva and Puertollano, two other large industrial areas in Spain where morning demonstrations were sparse, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Spain’s largest chemical companies were expected to keep output at a minimum throughout the day.
A spokesman for Spain’s chemical industry association Federacion Empresarial De La Industria Quimica Espanola (FEIQUE) said earlier the strikes would have only a minor impact on Spain’s Euro30bn ($28.5m) chemicals industry. But FEIQUE said admitted later that about 30% of Spain's workers had participated in the strike.
Pedro Marques, a chemicals analyst with Ibersecurities brokerage in Madrid, said: "We might see revenues [at chemical companies] fall by less than 0.5% but that would depend on several factors such as production levels, etc."
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