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FACTBOX-European workers hold anti-austerity protests

French trade unions staged their second 24-hour strike in a month last week in protest against President Nicolas Sarkozy's unpopular pension reform.
/ Source: Reuters

French trade unions staged their second 24-hour strike in a month last week in protest against President Nicolas Sarkozy's unpopular pension reform.

Anti-austerity strikes and protests have taken place around Europe, and unions plan a pan-European walkout or rallies on Sept. 29. Here are details of some major recent protests in European countries:


June 24 -- French unions held nationwide strikes in which thousands of workers protested against pension reforms, challenging President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sept 7 -- French trade unions mounted a show of strength with strikes and massive street protests against plans to raise the retirement age to 62 from 60 by 2018.

Sept 22/23 - Also in protest at the pension reforms, union-organised strikes disrupted rail and air traffic and schools, forcing airlines to cancel 40-50 percent of flights and halving intercity rail services.


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 23 -- Communist trade unionists prevented travellers from boarding ships at Greece's largest port, stranding tourist ferries as part of protests against austerity measures.

June 29 -- Police fired teargas at rioters shouting "burn parliament" in Athens. About 12,000 people joined marches during a 24-hour strike against pension reforms which would raise the retirement age to 65 for all.

July 8 -- About 12,000 people took to the streets to urge lawmakers not to vote for pension reform. It was the unions' sixth 24-hour strike against austerity measures.

Sept 11 -- About 20,000 people marched through the city of Thessaloniki.

Sept 21 - About 2,000 truck drivers chanting "Thieves, thieves, thieves" marched in Athens to protest against a bill which would open their sector to greater competition.

-- Public sector union ADEDY called a 24-hour strike on Oct. 7 to protest against austerity policies, including wage and pension cuts to slash deficits.

-- ADEDY, which numbers half a million civil servants, asked the country's highest court to nullify the memorandum the government signed with the European Commission and the IMF in exchange for emergency funding. Sept 22 - Lawmakers voted to open up road freight to competition, prompting angry truck drivers to block the two main roads to Athens and clash with police in front of parliament.

Sept 23 - Communist group PAME and smaller unions representing workers, retailers, farmers and students held a protest rally against austerity measures, at Omonoia Square in central Athens.


June 8 - The two largest unions called a one-day protest strike against planned labour reforms and said that up to 75 percent of the 2.3 million public sector workers stayed away from work.

June 22 - Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's minority government won approval for its labour reform bill in parliament after opposition parties abstained.

June 30 - Underground rail workers walked off the job for a third day causing traffic jams in Madrid. The halt affected 2 million commuters.


June 12 - Thousands marched in Rome to protest against austerity measures such as cuts in funding to local authorities and a freeze on public sector salaries.

June 25 - The CGIL, Italy's biggest union with 6 million members, held rallies in Rome, Milan and other cities to try to force the government to redraft its austerity package.

October - Italian unions plan a nationwide demonstration in early October to press for tax reforms and economic growth, but Italy's relatively smooth passage through the financial crisis has contained labour discontent.


June 12 - Thousands protested against Germany's biggest austerity drive since World War Two after Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet unveiled plans for 80 billion euros ($96.30 billion) in budget cuts and tax rises over four years.

Sept 20 - German steelworkers sent a message to employers announcing the start of limited work stoppages. The move, intended to strengthen the hand of 85,000 workers in wage negotiations, suggested German unions were emboldened by sinking unemployment and faster-than-expected economic recovery.


Sept 21 - Around 40,000 nurses, police officers and clerks marched through Prague to protest against a plan to cut public sector wages, but the government was determined to push on with its deficit-cutting programme. The protest was the first test of the new centre-right cabinet's resolve to narrow the budget gap to 4.6 percent of GDP in 2011 from 5.3 percent in 2010.


May 29 - Thousands marched in Lisbon against government austerity measures. The leader of the biggest union vowed to intensify resistance but stopped short of calling a strike. The rally was the first display of popular discontent since May 13, when the government announced a package including tax rises and cuts in pay and spending.


Sept 22 -- Around 5,000 public service workers, including policemen and firemen, protested in central Warsaw against plans to freeze their salaries in 2011 as part of a government drive to cut state spending. Protesters marched to parliament and handed in a petition demanding a repeal of austerity measures planned in the 2011 draft budget.


Sept 7 - A 24-hour strike by workers on London's underground rail system disrupted much of the network. The stoppage was called in protest against 800 job cuts driven by austerity measures. Underground staff plan further strikes on Oct 3, Nov 2, Nov 28.

Sept 12 - The coalition government defended plans to cut the welfare bill and warned that failing to reduce spending would profoundly damage the economy as it recovers from the worst recession since World War Two. The head of the Trades Union Congress, an umbrella group, said the public would not accept "eye-wateringly unfair" measures, and one transport union leader called for coordinated industrial action and civil disobedience.


September -- Public sector trade unions have threatened to strike on Sept. 27 if the government proceeds with a plan to freeze public sector wages until the end of 2011 because the recession has reduced its income.

-- Trade unions have warned that they will protest against the government pension reform plan which raises the retirement age to 65 for all from 57 for women and 58 for men at present. (Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit;)