Factbox: Euro zone government austerity plans stir protests

(BestGrowthStock) – Spain’s unions say three-quarters of public sector workers stayed at home on Tuesday in a protest against a government deficit-cutting austerity plan that will also help gauge the level of support for a wider strike.

Here are details of protests in euro zone countries whose economies have high levels of debt and repayment. European trade unions say they will hold a “European Day of Action” on September 29, including a rally in Brussels, to protest against spending cuts across the region. The rally is timed to coincide with an EU finance ministers’ meeting.

* GREECE

— Public and private sector workers went on strike on March 11, grounding flights, shutting schools and halting public transport in the second nationwide walkout in a fortnight in protest against government austerity plans.

— On April 26 striking dockers and protesters at the largest ports blocked hundreds of tourists from returning to their ships.

— On May 1, thousands of people marched through Athens to protest against austerity measures they said hurt only the poor.

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

— Thousands of strikers marched peacefully to parliament on May 20 in protest against austerity measures. The march was much smaller than the May 5 rally.

— The private sector union GSEE said on May 27 that unions would strike in June to protest against pension reform and were trying to mobilize workers across Europe to take joint action against austerity measures.

— Workers in the economically vital tourism sector said on June 4 that they would stage two strikes in June against austerity measures.

— On June 5 some 3,000 anti-austerity measure protesters marched peacefully through Athens, far fewer in numbers than seen in demonstrations in May.

* ITALY – Italy’s 6-million strong CGIL union has announced a nationwide stoppage on June 25, preceded by protest rallies around the country two weeks earlier. Two other big unions — CISL and UIL — have surprisingly refused to join the protest. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pushed through a 25-billion euro austerity package in May.

* PORTUGAL –

— Tens of thousands marched in Lisbon on May 29 against government austerity measures, and 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.

— The government and opposition agree to slash the deficit, partly by imposing 5 percent pay cuts on senior public sector staff and politicians, from 9.4 percent in 2009 to 7.3 percent of GDP in 2010 and 4.6 percent in 2011.

* SLOVENIA –

— Thousands of students flooded the capital Ljubljana on May 19 to protest against government plans to limit their right to work, reduce state scholarships and lower state spending on student meals as part of its budget deficit cutting plan.

* SPAIN –

— The government’s plan to halt pension increases in 2011 breaks an agreement, Spain’s biggest union Comisiones Obreras said. The leader of sister union Union General de Trabajadores (UGT) said the austerity plan was devastating for growth and would increase unemployment.

— The UGT union said it would contest the legality of wage cuts at the center of plans for budget cuts of 15 billion euros ($18.6 billion).

— Unions said on May 20 they would fight austerity measures in the courts as the Socialist government said it would impose a contentious cut in public sector wages through a royal decree, bypassing parliament.

— Railway workers called on May 22 for a one-day stoppage on May 28 in protest at proposed changes in working conditions.

— On May 27 unions warned that they would call a general strike as the government won parliamentary approval for a 15 billion euro austerity package by a single vote.

— Spain’s largest union said on June 4 it was not satisfied with government labor reform proposals leaked to the media so far and a general strike “seems inevitable.” The government says it is going ahead with its own version of labor reform as months of talks with unions and business leaders have failed to produce a consensus, and that it will present the plan on June 9.

— Public sector strikes on June 8 to protest against austerity measures. Unions say 75 percent of public sector workers are staying at home.

Stock Market Research

(Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; editing by Tim Pearce)

Factbox: Euro zone government austerity plans stir protests