Catalonia stages general strike following Spanish police's 'brutal' response to independence referendum

Two major ports 'practically at a standstill', according to local media

Jon Sharman
Tuesday 03 October 2017 09:38 BST
Picketers block Gran Via street during a general strike called by pro-independence parties and unions in Barcelona
Picketers block Gran Via street during a general strike called by pro-independence parties and unions in Barcelona (REUTERS)

Workers in Catalonia have staged a general strike while protests blocked key roads following the Spanish government's brutal crackdown on Sunday's independence referendum.

Footage showed police beating voters and firing rubber bullets into crowds on Sunday during clashes that left more than 800 injured, according to the region's government.

Barcelona's public transport was running at less than half of normal service level on Tuesday morning, and its port was "practically at a standstill", as was Tarragona's, La Vanguardia reported.

The agrarian sector was also at a near-standstill but Barcelona-El Prat airport was functioning normally, the site said.

Labour unions and grassroots pro-independence groups had urged workers to hold partial or full-day strikes throughout Catalonia to protest police conduct.

The strike call came as Catalan leaders considered a possible declaration of independence this week following the referendum which Spain said was illegal and invalid.

Port workers were being called to demonstrate outside the regional headquarters of Spain's ruling Popular Party while firefighters planned a rally outside the Interior Ministry's regional office in Barcelona.

Protests were also to be staged outside polling stations where police acted with force to try to prevent Sunday's poll being held.

Carles Puidgemont, president of Catalonia's Generalitat, said the world had been shocked by the “unjustified, abusive and severe police violence committed by the Spanish government”, noting that several leaders had expressed concern over the “brutal repression”.

The referendum had no legal status after being blocked by the Madrid government and Constitutional Court for being at odds with the 1978 constitution, which states that Spain cannot be broken up, and there is little sign of support for Catalan independence in any other part of Spain.

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