Portuguese Workers to Stage General Strike Thursday

Posted November 23rd, 2011 at 10:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Portuguese workers will stage a general strike Thursday to protest the government's tough austerity measures imposed by the European Union.

The country's two largest trade unions representing more than 1 million workers plan to hold more than 30 marches. The strike is expected to disrupt transport and other public services, including schools and hospitals, throughout the nation. Some international flights may have to be cancelled.

The unions have urged workers for weeks to strike against measures that include higher taxes and cutting civil servants' holidays and bonuses.

Portugal must meet EU conditions for a $104-billion international bailout to rescue it from its worst economic crisis in decades.

The centrist government of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, which came to power in June, and the opposition Socialist Party have agreed to the bailout conditions.

But the planned spending cuts, combined with declining living standards and high unemployment, have sparked anger in the nation of 11 million people.

Portugal was the third country in the eurozone to seek a bailout, after Greece and Ireland. Its economy is set to shrink about 3 percent next year.