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European workers protest budget cuts

Workers of Spain's biggest union, Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), wave flags during a nationwide general strike in Madrid, Spain.

TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Tens of thousands of workers across Europe are staging strikes and protests today. They're angry about government budget cuts
in several countries. Labor unions say the rallies are among the largest ever. Marketplace's Stephen Beard is with us live from London. Hi Stephen.

STEPHEN BEARD: Hello Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: How coordinated is this day of protest there?

BEARD: Very. Up to 100,000 workers from across the European Union are said to be taking part of a big protest in Brussels. Meanwhile, there's a general strike in Spain today and more protests in Greece, Poland, Italy, Latvia, Ireland and elsewhere. What all these workers are worried about are job cuts and pay cuts in the public sector as a result of deficit reduction by their governments. Here's what one union leader, David Cockroft, told the BBC.

DAVID COCKROFT: No one's saying that they have to stop all cuts, but the cuts have got to be negotiated and they've got to be angled towards creating decent jobs because if we don't, then we are going to have a real crisis. The double-dip recession will come.

CHIOTAKIS: You mentioned Brussels, Stephen, why are protesters marching there?

BEARD: Because a lot of the pressure to cut the deficits, to rein back public spending in Europe, is coming from the European Commission, the EU's main executive body. And today, in fact, the commission is discussing a new plan to punish EU member governments that don't keep their finances in order, that let their public spending spiral out of control.

CHIOTAKIS: Marketplace's Stephen Beard in London. Stephen, thanks.

BEARD: OK Steve.

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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