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Europe-wide protests against cuts

Protesters across Europe have taken action against austerity measures imposed by governments struggling to overcome recession.

Hundreds of people attended trade union rallies against public spending cuts in Belfast and Derry.

In Belfast, Irish Congress of Trade Unions assistant general secretary Peter Bunting told the crowds the burden of the crisis should not be loaded on the poor and denounced bankers he blamed for the crisis.

Picketers hurled eggs at buses and blocked trucks from delivering produce to markets as Spanish workers went on a general strike. Striking workers staged a sit-in outside a garage housing buses in the capital Madrid, screaming "scabs" at drivers trying to get out on to the road in the country's first general strike since 2002.

Meanwhile in Belgium, around 100,000 workers were preparing to march on European Union institutions in Brussels.

The march could be one of the biggest in the capital for years and will coincide with the European Commission making proposals to punish member states that have run up deficits, often by funding social and employment programmes. The unions fear workers will become the biggest victims of a crisis set off by bankers and traders, many of whom had to be rescued by massive government intervention.

In Greece, which had to be rescued by the euro-nations this spring to stave off bankruptcy, bus and trolley drivers walked off the job for several hours while Athens' metro system and tram were to shut down at noon.

In Portugal workers marched through the streets in Lisbon and Porto to protest at spending cuts against the minority government was holding a Cabinet meeting after which it was widely expected to announce further cuts and possibly tax rises.

Thousands of Polish workers staged protests against government plans to freeze wages and raise some taxes. The workers from around Poland blew horns and whistles during a protest in heavy rain in Warsaw and demanded the government guarantee their job security and scrap plans to raise the VAT and tax on alcohol and cigarettes.

Some 400 protesters rallied in an illegal demonstration in Vilnius to demand authorities in Lithuania drop harsh austerity measures. In Slovenia, thousands of public service workers continued their open-ended strike to protest at the government's plan to freeze their salaries for two years.

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From Belfast Telegraph