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Europe prepares for historic strikes

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 02:00

Nov.13 - Spain and Portugal prepare for their first co-ordinated general strike over austerity measures while sympathy strikes are planned across Europe. Will they increase pressure on governments? Hayley Platt reports.

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Pedro Barroso spends his days wandering the streets of Lisbon. The 38-year-old and has been out of work for two years. He says the only positive news in his life recently is growing social unrest across Portugal. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) PEDRO BARROSO, 38, UNEMPLOYED, SAYING: "More and more people are joining the demonstrations. The social awareness is noticeable. This year we had more demonstrations than in the last 20 years!" A second general strike in eight months will take place in Portugal on Wednesday, it's a joint effort with Spain. Unions are angry about austerity measures and declining living conditions. Feelings are running particularly high in Spain following the death of a woman facing eviction. Amaya Egana jumped from her balcony - highlighting how desperate some have become. Investors see a bailout for Spain as the way forward in the debt crisis. But many believe Spain's Prime MInister could now be forced to make decisions that please voters instead. Michael Leister from Commerzbank. SOUNDBITE: Michael Leister, senior rates strategist, Commerzbank, saying (English): "Rajoy is weighing his options and what he wants to achieve is to be re-elected at the next election and given that a bailout request will be unpopular with the Spanish electorate, at least the way we interpret it and you know if we were to have more general strikes down the road I guess it will increase his reluctance to call for it." But Spain is stuck in its second recession in three years and one in four is out of work. Fear of further austerity measures is fuelling the unrest. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MARIOS SARBU, MADRID RESIDENT AND LAWYER, SAYING: "Cuts in health, cuts in education - all those rights must remain and Spain's welfare system must remain as it was." There have been numerous strikes in Spain over the past year, but this is the first time that Spain and Portugal have co-ordinated strike action in this way. Sympathy strikes and protests will also be taking place elsewhere in Europe, including Greece, Italy and France.

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Europe prepares for historic strikes

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 02:00

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