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World News

FACTBOX - Europeans stage anti-austerity protests

REUTERS - Here are details of some of the major recent and forthcoming protests in European countries as Italian students opposed to spending cuts marched in Rome on Tuesday.

Protestors demonstrate against the Austrian budget for 2011 carrying a banner reading "down with the austerity package" and "we will not pay for their crisis" in front of the University in Vienna November 30, 2010. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer

ITALY:

Oct. 16 - Thousands of Italians marched in Rome in a rally organised by the FIOM metalworkers union and backed by the CGIL, Italy’s biggest union with 6 million members, to protest the bleak outlook for jobs and demand more rights for workers.

Nov. 30 - Thousands of students streamed through Rome towards parliament, chanting and waving banners with slogans such as ‘education is on its knees’. Students, who on Nov. 25 occupied key tourist sites including the leaning tower of Pisa and the Colosseum, vowed to block proposed changes by Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini.

BRITAIN:

Oct 3 - A 24-hour strike by workers on London’s underground rail system disrupted much of the network. The strike forced millions of commuters to struggle to work in their third walkout since September in a dispute over 800 planned job cuts. Another 24-hour strike took place on Nov. 28.

Oct. 19 - Britain’s trade unions took protests over spending cuts to parliament, promising to fight to protect public services.

Nov. 10 - About 55,000 students took part in a demonstration in London against the government plans to triple university tuition fees up to 9,000 pounds ($14,000). A small group took part in protests at Millbank Tower, home to the Conservative Party headquarters, which saw windows smashed and missiles hurled at police. Around 66 people were arrested.

Nov. 24 - Thousands of students staged walkouts and marches across Britain against planned rises in tuition fees.

Nov. 30 - Thousands of students engaged in a game of cat and mouse with police through central London during a chaotic tuition fees protest.

IRELAND:

Nov. 27 - Thousands of Irish took to the streets of Dublin to protest against the looming bailout. The EU approved an 85 billion euro ($115 billion) rescue for Ireland, a day later.

PORTUGAL:

Nov. 24 - Portugal’s biggest unions, the CGTP and the UGT, disrupted transport and halted services from healthcare to banking in protest against wage cuts and rising unemployment in the first joint general strike by the top two unions since 1988.

GREECE:

May 4-5 - Public-sector workers staged a 48-hour nationwide strike. On May 5, a 50,000-strong protest in Athens led to violence in which demonstrators fought police and three people were killed in a petrol bomb attack on a bank.

June 29 - Police fired tear gas at rioters shouting “burn parliament” in Athens. About 12,000 people joined marches during a strike against raising the retirement age to 65 for all.

July 8 - About 12,000 people marched against pension reform in the unions’ sixth 24-hour strike against austerity measures.

Nov. 10 - ADEDY, the public sector union, said it would also join private sector workers in a 24-hour general strike planned for Dec. 15, to protest against job cuts and austerity measures.

Nov. 22 - Greek private sector union GSEE called for a pan-European strike in 2011 to take joint action against austerity measures.

SPAIN:

Sept 29 - Spain’s first general strike in eight years, called to oppose spending cuts, disrupted transport and factories but the impact was limited as most Spaniards appear to resigned to austerity to trim a massive deficit.

CZECH REPUBLIC:

Nov. 8 - The main Czech labour union called a one-day strike of public sector workers for Dec. 8 to protest the government’s planned wage cuts and layoffs. Such strikes are rare in the central European country, whose centre-right government has pledged to balance its budget by 2016.

FRANCE:

-- The pension reform was signed into law by President Nicolas Sarkozy on Nov. 9. The reform raised the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60 and the full retirement age to 67 from 65 to balance the loss-ridden pension system by 2018.

-- Fierce opposition by trade unions and the French public, who staged a sustained wave of protests over austerity measures, turned the reform into the biggest battle of Sarkozy’s presidency. Unions mobilised nationwide street protests eight times since early September and rolling strikes at oil refineries caused serious fuel shortages at one stage, but the strikes are over and the turnout for protests slumped.

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