Millions of European workers hit the streets, heading not for their jobs but for demonstrations against austerity measures that have worsened the suffering of individuals in numerous countries.
Reuters reported Wednesday that coordinated strikes were called in Spain and Portugal, as unions joined forces to practically shut down railroads and flights were canceled. Ports and automobile factories ceased to function as workers reported to demonstrations instead of shifts. Bloomberg reported that the Portuguese economy shrank for an eighth straight quarter in September as the country’s leader continues to implement austerity policies.
In Madrid and Rome, protests saw violence; Spanish riot police went after demonstrators with batons, and arrests and injuries piled up; Italian students threw rocks over planned cuts to the educational system. Cash machines were disabled by protesters who used coins and glue to jam the works, and idle factories drove power consumption lower by 16%.
Strikes caused interruptions in international rail service in Belgium and in Greece, Italy and France a “European Day of Action and Solidarity” was planned, with demonstrations and work stoppages.