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Spanish metalworkers call off strike after pay rise deal

MADRID (AP) — Trade unions representing metalworkers in the southern Spanish province of Cadiz called off a nine-day strike and workers began returning to their jobs Thursday after reaching a pay agreement with employers covering the next three years.

Workers had demanded a pay rise in line with the surging inflation rate, which in October stood at 5.5%. The agreement states that salaries will rise by 2% each year through December 2023. In addition, if inflation is higher than that, employers will pay 80% of the difference between the 2% and the inflation increase.

José Muñoz, general secretary of the Cadiz Metalwork Employers group, told public broadcaster RTVE, “We are satisfied, and so are the unions.” Juan Linares, the provincial head of the industrial department of the CCOO union, one of Spain’s largest, said: “We are happy. At the end of the road, in the whole process, which lasts three years, the workers do not lose purchasing power.”

The agreement was approved by workers in a ballot. The open-ended strike began Nov. 16, with street protests at times turning violent as riot police clashed with strikers and their supporters. Hundreds of jobs have also been lost in the province of Cádiz, which has an unemployment rate of 23%, one of Spain’s highest.

Most of the employment in the province’s metal sector is in shipbuilding. Trade unions have deep roots in Cádiz, a blue-collar city of 116,000 people located on the coast near the Strait of Gibraltar.

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