Protesters take part in a demonstration during a general strike on November 14, 2012 in Valencia. (AFP Photo/Jose Jordan)
Massive anti-austerity strikes and protests swept across Europe as millions took to the streets to express their frustration over rising unemployment and dire economic prospects. Many rallies ended with violent clashes with police.
Workers marched in 23 countries across Europe to mark the European Day of Action and Solidarity.
General strikes had been called in Spain and Portugal, paralyzing public services and international flights, in Belgium and France transport links were partially disrupted by strikes and demonstrations, in Italy and Greece thousands of workers and students marched through the streets.
Other EU countries, such as Germany, Austria and Poland, saw well attended union-led rallies.
The Europe-wide strike action, the largest in a series of protests against the austerity policies, was coordinated by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and promoted on Twitter under the “#14N” hashtag.
People attend a demonstration called by unions, as part an European day of protest against austerity, on November 14, 2012 in Marseille, southeastern France. (AFP Photo/Anne-Christine Poujoulat)
Spain on strike
Spain, which has the highest unemployment rate in the industrialized world, pioneered the action, with protests and clashes starting overnight and dozens of arrests reported by morning. According to the unions, some 9 million workers took to the streets across the nation.
Police fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters in Madrid and Barcelona. More than 142 people were arrested and at least 74 injured, including 43 policemen, Spanish police said.
Slogans like “Rajoy Go Home” were chanted by Spaniards outraged over Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s public spending cuts that have led to a 26% unemployment rate in the country.
Leaflets saying “They leave us without future. They are the guilty ones. There are other solutions” could be seen all around Madrid.
Image from Twitter/@SaraFirth_RT
Protesters attend a demonstration during a general strike on November 14, 2012 in Madrid. (AFP Photo/Javier Soriano)
Chaos in Rome
Strikes and violent protests gripped Italy, as tens of thousands protesters took to the streets all over the country rallying against Prime Minister Mario Monti’s austerity measures.
Rome became the center of the chaos, as rioting workers and students brought the streets to a standstill when they confronted the police, throwing rocks, bottles and firecrackers at them.
To scatter the protesters police fired teargas and more than 50 people were arrested. At least 17 police officers were injured,
Riot policemen fight with demonstrators during a protest on a day of mobilisation against austerity measures by workers in southern Europe on November 14, 2012 in Rome. (AFP Photo/Filippo Monteforte)