Anti-austerity strikes break out across Europe
Co-ordinated protests are being held across the EU on Wednesday, with approximately 40 groups from 23 countries planning a deliberate walk-out in protest against increasing unemployment and austerity measures.
Strikes in Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy have been prepared as part of The Day of Action and Solidarity across the EU.
Protests are also likely to occur in Belgium, Germany, France, the UK and some eastern EU states. Transport in these countries may come to a stand-still, and many schools have been shut for the day.
The action was encouraged by the members of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), who said in a statement: “Austerity is a total dead end, and must be abandoned. Social protection and wages can no longer be sacrificed. This is a social emergency, and it is time to listen to what the citizens and workers have to say, and to change course.”
The statement continued by claiming that the mission of the day was to “call upon Europe’s leaders to demonstrate their determination to really get to grips with the deterioration in employment and to respond to the growing social anxiety felt by Europe’s citizens“.
This is the third strike in Greece in the last two months. Riots broke out on the streets of Athens after Greek MPs supported deep cuts in the country’s latest round of austerity measures, which were passed by only three votes earlier in November.
Around 80,000 people marched with anger outside the Greek parliament in response to the €13.5 billion cutbacks. Riot police used water cannon and tear gas to break up protesters, who shouted and threw petrol bombs.
“We’re on strike to stop these suicidal policies,” said Candido Mendez, leader of Spain’s second-biggest labour federation, the General Workers’ Union.
“I’m on strike because those who work are basically being blackmailed into sacrificing more and more in the name of debt reduction, which is a big lie,” said Daniel Santos de Jesus, 43, who teaches architecture at the Lisbon Technical University.