Across Europe, workers synchronize strikes against austerity

Demonstrators shout slogans in front of the parliament during a protest against austerity measures on November 14, 2012 in Rome.

Hundreds of flights have been cancelled, car factories and ports have been shut, and rail services disrupted. Millions of workers went on strike across Europe today in protest against public spending cuts. There are demonstrations and rallies too taking place in at least six eurozone countries, including Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, as part of a “European Day of Action and Solidarity.”

The protest is aimed at the German government's insistence that eurozone countries in need of a bailout must cut their public spending and reform their economies. The unions say that  is counterproductive: It tips the most troubled economies even deeper in to recession and makes it more difficult for them to reduce their debts.

Gayle Allard, a professor of economics with the IE business school in Madrid, says many Spaniards feel they are paying too high a price to combat the crisis: “Unemployment’s at 25 percent. People have run down their savings. Some are losing their homes. People are living off the pensions of their grandparents. It’s getting quite desperate.”

The largest labor union in Germany, DGB, is also protesting today in support of workers in Spain and Greece. The head of the union Michael Sommer says, “these countries are being cut to death.”

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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