Back at the end of September 2010, I had the fortune or misfortune of experiencing my second Huelga General (General Strike) since having moved to Madrid more than a decade before. My first General Strike had been organized back in 2002 to protest reforms to Spanish unemployment subsidies. I witnessed buses being attacked and was even accosted myself because I'd made the mistake of visiting my neighborhood supermarket. When I told my flatmates from the Canary Islands what had happened to me as I'd left the store with groceries in hand, they nodded and explained to me as best they could what the General Strike was all about, and why the people were attacking public transport workers who had chosen to work, and shouting at people who had decided to go shopping.
So in 2010, I was a bit more prepared and certainly more knowledgeable. For 24 hours, organized labor in Spain brought the country mostly to a standstill. It was remarkable for me as an American, because I'd really had no experience to compare it with from back home. Leading the charge were Spain's two biggest unions -- the CC.OO or Comisiones Obreros (Workers Commission) and the UGT or Union General de Trabajadores (General Workers Union). Remarkable I should say for 24 hours, because after that everyone packed up and went home, and Spain's two biggest unions fell right back in line! And so it goes. Do not expect Spanish labor to join up with the Indignados any time soon as the biggest unions in Spain are bought and paid for.