Spain says 32 arrested as general strike begins

Spain says 32 arrested as strike begins, gov't disputes union claim of massive participation

Associated Press
Spain says 32 arrested as general strike begins
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Protestors try to stop buses to run as the police stand guard outside a main bus garage during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's main trade unions stage a general strike, coinciding with similar work stoppages in Portugal and Greece, to protest government-imposed austerity measures and labor reforms. The strike is the second in Spain this year. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

MADRID (AP) -- A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began.

The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries.

Ministry official Cristina Diaz played down participation saying it was hardly noticeable in goods haulage and major city wholesale food markets.

She said electricity consumption, a gauge of industrial activity, was down 11 percent on a normal working day.

Strikes and protests are also planned in Italy, Greece, Portugal, France and Belgium.

With a 25 percent unemployment rate, Spain is at the core of Europe's debt crisis.

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