Over 500 trains were cancelled in Spain today as workers staged a 24-hour strike against threats to privatise up to half the country's railways.
The right-wing Mariano Rajoy government claims the sell-off will help reduce the public deficit, which was accumulated by Madrid's decision to take on the liabilities of failed private banks.
But rail workers say the plan could see 100,000 staff chucked on the dole and point out that countries that have privatised their railways, like Britain, have ended up paying bigger subsidies for a worse service.
Rail union UGT said the government had imposed unreasonably high minimum service levels to reduce the impact of the strike - including on commercial freight services.
Union spokesman Miguel Angel Escolario said: "Never in my life has there been a minimum service in freight transport and now there is. That's the negotiating stance of Rajoy's right-wing and fascist government."
And a passenger in Madrid told reporters that she backed the action. "They should make cuts at the top, then we'd react differently," she said.
A second strike is planned for September 17.
Meanwhile, coalminers also pledged further industrial action today even as they returned to work after a two-month strike.
Union Fitag-UGT said the government had shown "no willingness to reach an agreement" over the future of the country's coalmines, threatened by massive subsidy cuts.
Mr Rajoy told a press conference today that he might consider asking for an EU bailout as Spanish borrowing costs soared to 7.21 per cent on 10-year bonds.