Since 2012 inclusive, State pensions have only risen by the legal minimum of 0.25% per annum, meaning retirees are now worse off as their income has not kept up with inflation.
Up to 4,000 pensioners barricaded the Carrera de San Jerónimo from the Plaza de Neptuno to the C/ Cedaceros in Madrid, something no public demonstration has ever managed to do in the past.
Backed by the General Workers’ Union (UGT), the protesters will take to the streets every fortnight from March 1 inclusive.
Already, groups of retirees have staged demonstrations outside town halls across the country on several occasions.
They say as many as five million residents in Spain living on a Spanish State pension are on or below the breadline.
Left-wing politicians at national government level also joined the demonstration in Madrid today, including Íñigo Errejón from Podemos, who points out that ‘when pensioners demand a living income, they are also clamoring for the next generation’s pensions to be protected’.
“To save pensions for the grandparents of today, we need to protect the salaries and job contracts of their grandchildren,” Errejón argues.
MP for the PSOE (socialists) Rafael Simancas and federal leader of United Left (IU) Alberto Garzón were also seen among the crowds.
Minister for employment Fátima Báñez says it is ‘not true’ that, as the protesting pensioners say, anyone who retires today will lose €350 a month over the course of their life, and insists spending power among the over-65s is now ‘greater than before the financial crisis’.
Sra Báñez has ruled out any plans to increase State retirement age beyond 67 and claims the gender pay gap for pensioners has reduced by 13% since the PP approved a supplementary stamp for maternity two years ago.
She says every second female pensioner now earns up to 15% more for having been working whilst bringing up their children.