The December 21 ballot might backfire on the Spanish Prime Minister.
Journalists at El Mundo, Expansión and Marca, and staff across publisher Unidad Editorial, began a second full day (24 hours) of strike action at 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning, after failing to reach a deal with management at the weekend.
Workers committees posted videos on Facebook of empty newsrooms this morning, and said on Twitter that the latest offer from management was "not enough" and "not serious".
"The workers at El Mundo will continue to defend our positions and our newspaper, even though mangers do not."
The company had improved its lay-off offer slightly, including voluntary redundancies at 33 days pay per year worked, up to maximum of 18 years, and an early retirement plan for those aged 58 and over, at 60% net salary, compared to those aged 59 and over in the first round.
Forced lay offs will be paid at 30 days pay per year worked, up to a maximum of 12 years.
The first 24-hour strike last Tuesday, which unions labelled "historic", meant that the websites were not updated with news and that El Mundo did not go to print on Wednesday, the first time that had happened due to industrial action.
The three Spanish journalists kidnapped in Syria last July, Antonio Pampliega, José Manuel López and Ángel Sastre, have arrived back in Spain, the Spanish Prime Minister's Office, Moncloa, confirmed to The Spain Report.
They landed in a Spanish military jet at 10:15 a.m. local time, after a flight from Turkey.
The Prime Minister's Office did not say who, if anyone, had gone to the airport to meet the three men, or offer any details about how they had been freed, beyond the statement on Saturday night that "the work of many public servants and the collaboration of allied and friendly countries"—mainly Turkey and Qatar—had brought about their release.
Unions at El Mundo publisher Unidad Editorial declared yesterday's first 24-hour all-out strike a "historic" success on Wednesday afternoon, in an e-mail to staff obtained by The Spain Report.
"El Mundo didn't make it to news stands, reduced versions of Expansion and Marca went to print, more like pamphlets than a newspaper, Radio Marca was only broadcasting music, and magazine newsrooms were empty", said the e-mail, signed by the workers committees.
A new meeting is set with management for Thursday, at which unions "hope they will have understood the total opposition of staff to the measures proposed by Unidad Editorial".
Last week, unions announced in their strike plan that staff would be called upon to stop work every Tuesday—for 24 hours each time—whilst a reversal of the lay off plan or better conditions are negotiated.
Workers say Italian owner RCS and Unidad Editorial do not have a sound editorial plan for El Mundo and that the lay offs are being driven by financial problems in Italy, not the performance of the Spanish papers.
Unions have threatened an indefinite strike if talks collapse without agreement.
El Mundo editor David Jiménez declined to comment.
The El Mundo newsroom is empty today and neither the website nor the El Mundo Twitter feed have been updated with any news since 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning, when a strike across Unidad Editorial began in protest at a lay-off plan that will sack 224 workers, most of them journalists.
The newsrooms of business daily Expansión and Spain's favourite sports daily Marca were also empty, striking workers reported, but someone at Expansión is uploading wire stories from Spanish news agency EFE and tweeting them out.
Staff gathered outside the front gate of the Unidad Editorial building in Madrid and posted comments on Twitter. Some also said they would not be tweeting either for the duration of the strike, which will last until 7 a.m. on Wednesday.
El Mundo's economy correspondent, Carlos Segovia, tweeted that it was "a very hard day. Apologies to readers, but there is a lot at stake. #Journalism".
On Monday evening, workers' committees at El Mundo publisher Unidad Editorial issued a final statement in preparation for Tuesday's 24-hour strike action that will call on all Unidad Editorial staff to lay down their keyboards.
"Tomorrow, Tuesday May 3, at 7 a.m., the first day of the strike called to demonstrate our rejection of the lay-off plan the company has presented—with which it means to sack 224 people—begins. We ask for massive support for this strike from all workers at Grupo Unidad Editorial, because it affects us all", said the statement.
Two protest gatherings are planned for 12 p.m. - 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. - 6 p.m., outside the front gate. In Andalusia, El Mundo staff have organised a symbolic blood donation campaign.
If the strike succeeds, El Mundo, Expansión and Marca will not go to print on Wednesday, for the first time since their creation. In the case of Marca, Spain's leading sports daily, readers will miss out on the chronicle of tomorrow night's Atlético Madrid vs. Bayern Munich Champions League clash and the warm-up stories for Wednesday's Real Madrid vs. Manchester City match.
The full list of measures announced by workers at Spanish dailies El Mundo, Expansión, Marca and publisher Unidad Editorial includes four different types of strike and a demand senior management, including Unidad Editorial chairman Antonio Fernández Galiano, resign.
A copy of the internal message—sent from the workers' committee to staff and obtained by The Spain Report—lists the four strike measures outraged workers have put on the table: 24-hour rolling strikes every Tuesday from May 3 until the end of the negotiation phase, an indefinite strike if negotiations fail, hourly five-minute stoppages on April 27, the first day of negotiations, and a partial byline strike—with some journalists refusing to sign their articles—from May 3.
They want Mr. Galiano, director general Javier Cabrerizo, human resources boss Tomás Pereda and financial director Rafaella Papa to resign.
"The workers of Unidad Editorial consider this savage lay-off plan is being imposed by Italian owner RCS, due to its financial situation, and not because organisational or economic causes exist within Unidad Editorial to justify it", said the communiqué.
Journalists covering a conference given by Pablo Iglesias at Madrid's Complutense University abandoned the lecture hall after he singled out El Mundo reporter Álvaro Carvajal for commentary.
"I have to avoid Álvaro Carvajal, who looks like an epistemologist but who is an El Mundo journalist, coming out with a headline for me like "Pablo Iglesias, let's make Spain masturbate with us", said the Podemos leader, who explained he would talk about the Freudian aspects of the relationship between the media and politicians.
"The journalists look scared for the first time", he suggested with a grin.
He later singled out Mr. Carvajal for a second time: "Álvaro Carvajal, or someone who wasn't Álvaro Carvajal, or Álvaro Carvajal's internal sources, came to report something that wasn't true like so many other things that are not true but that get published".
He was attempting to describe how newspapers publish negative stories about Podemos.
In its story on the incident, El Mundo described Mr. Iglesias's comments as an "attack" on Mr. Carvajal, and Spanish journalists criticised the Podemos leader heavily on Twitter. He later tweeted an apology but said "I told the truth".
Unidad Editorial, the publisher of Spanish newspapers El Mundo (generalist), Expansión (business) and Marca (sports), is to sack 224 of its 1,400 staff in a new round of mass layoffs, the trade union committee confirmed in a statement on Thursday.
It said the survival of the company was at stake, that managers were incapable of defending it and that RCS—the Italian owner of the Spanish publisher—meant to "dismantle Unidad Editorial as a news company".
185 journalists and 39 corporate staff from the group are set to be dismissed on 20 days pay per year worked, including more than 90 journalists at El Mundo, almost a quarter of the Spanish daily's 338 total staff.
58 of the El Mundo journalists will be sacked from the central newsroom in Madrid and 32 from regional El Mundo newsrooms around the country, some of which will close.
24 more will be dismissed from Marca, Spain's leading sports daily, 19 from Radio Marca, 16 from business daily Expansión and 27 from magazines.
The worker's committee would like the lay offs placed on hold while take-over negotiations—Cairo Communications is trying to buy out RCS—take place in Italy.
A new meeting will be held on April 27.
Catalan public broadcaster Televisió de Catalunya issued a statement late on Tuesday evening "lamenting" the "symbolic burning of some pages of a book with false covers that emulated the Spanish Constitution".
The TV station took down the online copy of presenter Empar Moliner's show segment, though, just in case, saying it had done so because it was sorry they had "caused offence". The station said it guaranteed they would not be rebroadcast on its channels.
"Empar Moliner works with "Els Matins" (Mornings) and does satirical, ironic, sharp critiques in a comedy segment during the final part of the show", said the statement.
"In yesterday's gag, Moliner made a metaphorical denouncement of the Constitutional Court's decision, which she understood as discrimination against the rights of the worst off, with the symbolic burning of some pages of a book with false covers that emulated the Spanish Constitution".
Empar Moliner, a presenter on TV show Els Matins (Mornings), broadcast on Catalan public channel TV3, burnt a copy of the Spanish Constitution live on air during her commentary segment on the show on Monday morning.
Ms. Moliner ripped pages out of a copy of the Constitution as she spoke, tossing them into a metal waste bin. She then lit the contents with a match: "Look how well it burns!".
She was making a point on the injustice of a Constitutional Court ruling striking down a Catalan energy law which aimed to stop energy companies cutting off supply to poor families. "Poor Catalans will have to warm up with any book they have [to hand] as a heater", she said.
TV3 has uploaded the full clip to its website, with the title "When warming up in winter is unconstitutional".
PP spokesman Pablo Casado said that his party "demands an apology from TV3 for allowing a Constitution to be burned". He labelled the stunt "worthy of totalitarian regimes".
Several Spanish journalists were arrested by police in Macedonia on Monday after following a refugee march to cross a river near the village of Idomeni, media outlets reported. Alberto Sicilia who writes for Público and reports for La Sexta TV, Mikel Konate, Mariano Bura-tini, Javier Bauluz, the editor of Periodismo Humano and Ane Irazabal, a reporter for Basque TV ETB, were detained. Reuters reported "around 30" journalists who had been following the migrants had been arrested in total, including a Reuters photographer. Sunday Times EU correspondent Bojan Pancevski reported 800 migrants and 37 journalists had been arrested. La Sexta said its team would be expelled to Greece after being fined and banned from re-entering Macedonia for one year. They have not been charged with a crime.
Judge Ismael Moreno Chamarro ordered the two puppet masters he had jailed on Saturday freed on bail on Wednesday afternoon, Spanish media reported, after the Public Prosector's Office reversed its recommendation and asked him to release Alfónso Lázaro de la Torre and Raul García Pérez but order the pair to specify a home address, to order them to appear before the court every day, to confiscate their passports and to prohibit them from leaving the country. Judge Moreno has ordered them to appear before the court daily and confiscated their passports. Cadena SER reported Mr. García's defence lawyer, Jaime Montero, had called the new measures "excessive" and "disproportionate".
The Public Prosecutor's Office in Madrid reversed its initial position on Wednesday and asked judge Ismael Moreno Chamarro to free two puppet masters jailed on Saturday without bail on accusations of glorifying terrorism, multiple Spanish media outlets reported. The prosecutor alleges that the risk of Alfónso Lázaro de la Torre and Raul García Pérez committing the same crime again has diminished since the weekend, given police "impounded all of the material used in the play". The prosecutor now recommends bail for the two men but also wants the judge to order them to specify a home address, to order them to appear before the court every day, to confiscate their passports and to prohibit them from leaving the country. The two men were arrested on Friday evening after parents reported them to police for the tone and content of their infants' puppet play, and Judge Moreno ordered them behind bars on Saturday on suspicion of glorification of terrorism, alleging a small sign pinned to one of the puppets read "long live Al-Qaeda-ETA". A media and legal outcry followed.