Thursday, November 15th 2012 - 00:13 UTC

Austerity unites Europe: millions turn out disrupting services and clashing with police

Millions took to the streets across Europe in a co-ordinated day of protest against austerity measures. The European Trade Union Organisation says austerity is a “total dead end” and called for industrial action across 23 countries.

Incidents were particularly serious in Madrid and other Spanish cities

Police clashed with noisy protesters who roamed the Spanish capital Madrid, while further violent scuffles were reported elsewhere in the country. Workers in Portugal, Greece, Italy, France, and Belgium also staged demonstrations as part of the so-called “European Day of Action and Solidarity”.

Police and protesters clashed in Spain on Wednesday as millions of workers went on strike across Europe to protest spending cuts they say have made the economic crisis worse.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled, car factories and ports were at a standstill and trains barely ran in Spain and Portugal where unions held their first ever coordinated general strike.

Riot police arrested protesters in Madrid and hit others with batons, witnesses said and in Rome students’ pelted police with rocks in a protest over money-saving plans for the school system.

International rail services were disrupted by strikes in Belgium and workers in Greece, Italy and France went on work stoppages and demonstrations as part of the “European Day of Action and Solidarity”.

“We're on strike to stop these suicidal policies” said Candido Mendez, head of Spain's second-biggest labour federation, the General Workers' Union, or UGT.

More than 60 people were arrested in Spain and 34 injured 18 of them security officials after scuffles at picket lines and damage to storefronts. In Rome a policeman was seriously injured when attacked with rocks and baseball bats.

Protesters jammed cash machines with glue and coins and plastered anti-government stickers on shop windows. Power consumption dropped 16% with factories idled.

International lenders and some economists say the programs of tax hikes and spending cuts are necessary for putting public finances back on a healthy track after years of overspending.

While several southern European countries have seen bursts of violence, a coordinated and effective regional protest to the austerity has yet to gain traction and governments have so far largely stuck to their policies.

Spain, where the crisis has pushed millions into poverty, has seen some of the biggest protests. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is trying to put off asking for European aid that could require even more budget cuts.

Passion was inflamed when a Spanish woman jumped to her death last week as bailiffs tried to evict her from her home. Spaniards are furious at banks being rescued with public cash while ordinary people suffer.

In Portugal, which accepted an EU bailout last year, the streets have been quieter but public and political opposition to austerity is mounting, threatening to derail new measures sought by Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho.

His centre-right government was forced by protests to abandon a planned increase in employee payroll charges, but replaced it by higher taxes.

Passos Coelho's policies were held up this week as a model by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is despised in much of southern Europe for insisting on austerity as a condition of her support for EU aid.

Some 5 million people, or 22% of the workforce, are union members in Spain. In Portugal about a quarter of the 5.5 million strong work-force is unionized.

11 comments Feed

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1 Ayayay (#) Nov 15th, 2012 - 12:42 am Report abuse
*Southern Europe

But hey millions of Asians can now live as middle-class ($10 + a day) nowthanks to a global economy.
2 Idlehands (#) Nov 15th, 2012 - 09:38 am Report abuse
The only solution I can see to this crisis is if the likes of Spain & Greece leave the eurozone or the Germans do. Together they simply don't fit.
3 briton (#) Nov 15th, 2012 - 02:37 pm Report abuse
the sooner we get out of this greedy corupt loony bin the better.
4 Pirat-Hunter (#) Nov 15th, 2012 - 03:11 pm Report abuse
I am sorry to hear about this but someone should tell the Brits that there are more economic problems Europe then in Argentina.
5 briton (#) Nov 15th, 2012 - 03:12 pm Report abuse
someone should tell the Brits
we already know the mess the Euroes are in,

thats why we need to get out, and fast,

but if argentina wants to take our place, feel free to apply.
6 Ayayay (#) Nov 15th, 2012 - 06:04 pm Report abuse
Switzerland reported 2.8% unemployment in October 2012. (By contrast, Argentina's INDEC unemployment #s are two and a half times higher). Switzerland is SURROUNDED by the Euro Union, isn't a part of it.

The challenges are in «Latin Europe», a HUU-UGE investor in Latin America.

The Spanish & Italians are also in a negative feedback loop with Argentina, THE MOST EUROPEAN COUNTRY OF SOUTH AMERICA, that includes: Repsol, biodiesel dumping, default, and the surprise announcement of import restrictions.

Greece is on the border between Latin Europe & the more fiery Middle East. (Athens sits in the Middle East). There's a great Swedish study that shows border towns/countries have more turbulence. Just like a window or a doorway concentrates the wind.

I think they're gonna look at this era as the era before divorce was legal. For countries.
7 British_Kirchnerist (#) Nov 16th, 2012 - 08:13 pm Report abuse
Its as I've always said, austerity isn't working!
8 DanyBerger (#) Nov 17th, 2012 - 06:14 am Report abuse

Argentina is paradise compared with UK and the whole Europe is suffering the pinch of the financial mess.

And pleas don’t satart with your currency over value comparison because is useful who earn in Pounds spend in ponds. Euros in Euros and pesos in Pesos.

So now sing...

CaMoron, I love you so
I want you to know
that I'm going to miss your love
the minute you walk out that door

so please don't cut
don't cut, don't cut more
please don't cut
don't cut, I'm begging you to go...
9 reality check (#) Nov 17th, 2012 - 08:04 pm Report abuse
I prefer this one.
Coutesy of Brotherhhod of man.

Save all your dollars for me,
Save all your dollars for me.
So long honey so long,
Hang on baby hang on.
Don't You dare me to stay,
Cause You know I'll have to say!
Save all your dollars for me,
Save all your dollars for me.
Goodbye baby goodbye,
Switzerland is calling gotta fly.
Cos you'll hurt me if I stay.
So you know I have to say!
Save all your dollars for me..............
10 Ayayay (#) Nov 19th, 2012 - 01:51 am Report abuse
@8 The Northern Europe region is showing GROWTH.

My region in the U.S. in 2012? breaking records over the height of the 2008 in retail sales.
My region broke their tourism record of all time this year.
Our minimum wage is $7.25 with free health care, and..
My food costs less than food in Argentine supermarkets.
11 DanyBerger (#) Nov 19th, 2012 - 10:16 am Report abuse

Well ask for a salary rise because your salary is a miserable one.
$1392 dollars at month in US cannot buy much on these days.

Are you growing your own food in your garden and renting an igloo?

You have to compare apples with apples and oranges with oranges.

I have no idea where you are in US but is not the same to live in NY than in Dubuque in Iowa. Do you know what I mean?

So may be you would have to compare your situation with someone in Misiones earning 2.5k pesos and sure the price of food in Misiones will be 3 times cheaper than in Buenos Aires.

I earned more than USD 3k per month when I was in Europe and was not much to be honest.

why do you think that a 7.25 per hour a good salary?

If you can try with lets say something like $10K + bonus and housing and a car per month in you cheap town I will listening but just a bit.


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