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World News

FACTBOX: Financial crisis sparks unrest in Europe

(Reuters) - French unions staged a nationwide day of action on Thursday to denounce the government’s economic policies and call for more measures to help consumers.

The global financial crisis has sparked protests in many parts of Europe this year:

BOSNIA -- Bosnia’s Muslim-Croat parliament canceled a session on February 26 rather than confront protesters complaining about plans to cut benefits to narrow a big budget gap.

BRITAIN -- British workers held a series of protests at power plants against the use of foreign contractors on critical energy sites. They voted to end strikes on February 5 after French oil group Total agreed to hire more British workers at its Lindsey oil refinery.

BULGARIA -- Hundreds of workers at Bulgaria’s Kremikovtzi steel mill protested on March 9 over planned lay-offs and unpaid salaries, demanding the Socialist-led government find a buyer for the insolvent plant.

-- Thousands of police officers marched in Sofia on March 15 to demand a 50 percent wage rise and better working conditions.

CZECH REPUBLIC -- Thousands of farmers from the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Poland marched through Prague on March 12 to demand higher milk prices and subsidies to boost incomes hit by the economic crisis.

FRANCE -- Protesters took to the streets of France on Thursday in a second round of strikes and rallies called to denounce President Nicolas Sarkozy’s handling of the economic crisis.

Up to 2.5 million people demonstrated around France on January 29 over pay and job protection. On March 5, unions and authorities signed a deal to end a six-week general strike over wages and prices that had paralyzed France’s Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. A union leader was killed, and shops were burned and looted in the protests.

-- Thousands of workers marched in France’s Indian Ocean territory La Reunion on March 5 and March 10 in a campaign of strikes and protests to push for wage increases.

GERMANY -- 15,000 Opel workers from Germany rallied on February 26 at the German HQ of their struggling company, demanding parent General Motors scrap plans for plant closures in Europe.

GREECE -- The fatal police shooting of a 15-year old in December sparked the country’s worst riots in decades, fueled by anger at economic hardships and youth unemployment. Anarchists and left-wing guerrilla groups have followed up with a wave of attacks against banks and police.

-- Greek unions, representing about 2.5 million workers, have also staged repeated protests against the government, saying its measures to tackle the global crisis only burden the poor.

HUNGARY -- Police used teargas to disperse a group of anti-government protesters in Budapest March 15 and detained a total of 35 people.

IRELAND -- Nearly 100,000 people marched through Dublin on February 21 to protest at government cutbacks in the face of a deepening recession and bailouts for the banks.

LATVIA -- A new Latvian prime minister was appointed on February 26 after coalition government collapsed, the second to succumb to the financial crisis after Iceland. The agriculture minister quit on February 3 after protests by farmers over falling incomes.

LITHUANIA -- Police fired teargas on January 16 to disperse demonstrators who pelted parliament with stones in protest at social spending cuts. Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius vowed to press on with an austerity plan.

MONTENEGRO -- Aluminum workers on February 9 demanded to be paid and win an immediate resumption of suspended production at the Kombinat Aluminijuma Podgorica, a Russian-owned plant.

POLAND -- Up to 10,000 workers, mostly from the arms industry, demonstrated on March 6 against lay-offs after Poland announced defense budget cuts. In Gdansk, 3,000 workers protested against power producer Energa’s job cut plans.

PORTUGAL - Tens of thousands of workers marched in Lisbon on March 13 against the policies of the Socialist government, which unions say are increasing unemployment and favoring the rich at a time of crisis.

RUSSIA -- About 1,000 demonstrators called for the government to resign during a peaceful march in Vladivostok on March 15, the latest protest linked to the economic crisis in Russia. About 800,000 Russians lost their jobs in December and January, taking the total number of unemployed to more than 6 million, or 8.1 percent of the working population.

-- Sixteen steelworkers at ESTAR’s Zlatoust steel mill suspended a hunger strike over wages on March 14 after management agreed to some demands, but threatened to resume the rare show of dissent over spreading economic hardship.

UKRAINE - Hundreds of Ukrainians protested on February 23, some urging President Viktor Yushchenko to quit, others demanding their money back from banks hit by the financial crisis.

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