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Europe unites as millions go on strike to protest austerity measures

Published: November 14, 2012
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Source: LA Times

Millions of workers went on strike and joined anti-austerity protests throughout much of southern Europe on Wednesday, in the first joint labor action across countries suffering the worst of the continent's debt crisis.

Workers walked off the job in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, with smaller protests in France, Belgium and Cyprus.

Tens of thousands of people packed Madrid's wide avenues, waving trade union flags and forming picket lines around shops that remained open. Riot police fired rubber bullets at demonstrators blocking traffic. More than 80 people were arrested and 34 injured, including 18 police officers. Videos emerged of police beating adolescent protesters in incidents in Valencia and Tarragona.

Elsewhere in the Spanish capital, thousands broke off from the main crowd and surrounded the Hospital Princesa, a public facility slated to be privatized as part of government austerity plans. Nurses swapped their white lab coats for red union T-shirts and joined the crowd, chanting: "Public healthcare!"

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