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May day protests spread across Europe

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 - 02:02

May 1 - Greece's main private and public sector trade unions hold a 24-hour general strike to protest against austerity. May Day demonstrations are also taking place in several other European countries, Hayley Platt reports on whether social unrest is growing.

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Greeks rally in Athens - something they've had time to get used to. The country is now in its sixth year of recession. Its main private and public sector unions chose May Day to call a 24-hour general strike. And workers protested against the government's austerity measures. Unemployment stands at 27 percent and pay and pensions have been slashed. There's more pain to come. The government plans to sack 15,000 civil servants to make way for new cheaper workers. (SOUNDBITE)(English) UNEMPLOYED UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR SAYING: "We are here to fight, we are here to stay, and we are here to win for the working class people, and for our people here in Greece and why not, all over the world." Athens ground to a standstill. Ferries services were cancelled with only a partial rail service running. Lloyds', Trevor Williams says Europe could be facing a summer of discontent. SOUNDBITE: Trevor Williams, Chief Economist, Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets, saying (English): "I think there's a big risk of it being a long hot summer on the basis that austerity is biting, that there are lots of people that are increasingly unemployed, particularly youth unemployment, and in any country you have youth unemployment above 50% it's got to be a serious concern." The action comes just days after Greece passed the latest austerity bill. It's the fourth wave of measures since 2010 and eases the way for the next aid installment from the EU and the IMF. But Greeks say they've had enough. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) MARINA TSIAPILI, UNEMPLOYED, SAYING: "I just received 420 euros of unemployment benefits, and my electricity bill alone was 400 euros, because we didn't have money to buy heating oil. If I don't fight, for my children and my grandchildren, nothing will change." Workers in Spain, France and Portugal also took to the streets to protest against austerity. Some European leaders have recently spoken out against more cuts and are calling for growth measures instead. But for workers in bailed-out Greece, there seems little sign of a recovery.

May day protests spread across Europe

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 - 02:02

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