European workers stage austerity protests
Workers across the European Union are staging a series of protests and strikes against rising unemployment and austerity measures.

Organisers of the strike are urging national leaders to abandon austerity and address growing social anxiety.

Strikes are expected in Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy, with other protests planned in Belgium, Germany, France and some eastern EU states.

Airlines across Europe have been cancelling and rescheduling flights.

Spain and Portugal have been particularly hit, and airlines are recommending passengers to check the schedules before travelling to airports.

The European Trade Union Confederation urged workers to walk out on Wednesday.

The confederation's Judith Kirton-Darling told the BBC that austerity was not working.

"It's increasing inequalities, it's increasing the social instability in society and it's not resolving the economic crisis," she said.

Some 40 groups from 23 countries are involved in Wednesday's demonstrations.
'There is just no work'

Unions in Spain and Portugal started strikes at midnight to protest against austerity measures that have combined tax rises with cuts in salaries, pensions, benefits and social services.
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The question that worries many of Europe's leaders is when will patience run out? When will tolerance of high unemployment and declining living standards snap?”

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Marchers came out late on Tuesday in Spain, where 25% are unemployed, the highest rate in Europe.

"I have two sons in my house, one is getting subsidies, the other has been at home for the last three years," said protesting housewife, Paqui Olmo.

"It is not that he doesn't want to work, there is just no work."

In the first reported clashes of the day, picketers and police fought at a Madrid bus depot where demonstrators were trying to stop buses from leaving.

There were outbreaks of violence in other Spanish cities, and the interior ministry said several arrests had been made.

The government has played down the general strike, saying the electricity grid is registering 80% of its normal usage.

But unions claim the operations of several large companies, including Danone and Heineken, have ground to a halt.
Policeman clash with a demonstrator who tried to prevent the departure of buses on the parking lot of the Madrid Bus Company during a general strike on November 14 Police and protesting workers clashed in several Spanish cities

In neighbouring Portugal, demonstrators took the streets in the early hours, carrying banners denouncing the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.

The so-called troika has bailed out Portugal to the tune of 78bn euros ($100m; £62m), and demanded deep austerity measures in return.

The BBC's Chris Morris in Lisbon says public transport has come to a virtual standstill, and many schools and public offices are expected to be closed.

In Italy, transport workers are expected to join a four-hour national strike, though airlines said they did not expect flights to be disrupted.
Last Modified: 2012-11-14 09:40:03
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