Strikes, occupations spread across Europe

Thousands of workers across Greece walked off the job on Dec. 1, in the seventh general strike this year to protest government austerity measures. The strike came two days after the new Greek emergency government won European Union approval for a crucial sixth installment of bailout aid, without which the country would have faced default. National rail service was halted, and ferries were moored in their ports. Courts and schools closed, hospitals were operating with only emergency staff and customs officials walked out. Thousands of workers marched in central Athens, while youths clashed with riot police in the Exarchia district. Public transportation ran a limited service to enable workers to attend protest marches. (NYT, Dec. 2)

Thousands joined a mass rally in Sofia, Bulgaria, Nov. 30 to protest proposed austerity measures that include raising the retirement age by one year. A strike by employees of the Bulgarian state railway company, BDZ, entered its ninth day on Dec. 2, with workers opposing reform plans that would limit merit bonuses. (Sofia Echo, Dec. 2; Bloomberg, Nov. 30)

Public transport in Brussels was “heavily disrupted” Dec. 2 as Belgium‘s trade unions staged a protest march in the capital to oppose austerity measures. Some 60,000 filled the streets, as transport workers walked off the job. (Bloomberg, UKPA, Dec. 2)

Education workers in the Czech Republic announced a national strike for Dec. 7 to protest government plans to make teachers’ salaries dependent on headmasters’ decision, not their time on the job. (Çeské Noviny, Dec. 2)

In the financial district of Frankfurt, Germany, where an occupation encampment has been maintained for the past several weeks, an apparent right-wing satirical artist plastered the area with posters poking fun at the movement. The posters feature a painted picture of a nude woman and man enjoying food and music in an apartment with the message: “Don’t rebel; be an escapist.” Danish artist Jan Egesborg, who produced the posters, says he plans to put them up in all the European cities where Occupy movements are active. (AP, Nov. 30)

Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers went on strike in the United Kingdom on Nov. 30 to protest over pension cutbacks—a walkout hailed by unions as the biggest in a generation but dismissed by Prime Minister David Cameron as a “damp squib.” Union leaders and the government were at odds over how widely the strike was honored. (Nov. 30)

Activists from the Occupy London movement meanwhile stormed a building housing the multinational mining giant Xstrata (with operations in Australia and in Chile), which has among the highest paid chief executives in Britain. About 60 protesters got inside Panton House, Occupy London Stock Exchange (OLSX) said. Another 200 were held outside by a police cordon. (AFP, Dec. 1)

See our last post on the global econo-protests.

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  1. Protests topple Bulgarian government
    Anti-austerity protests continue in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia after Prime Minister Boiko Borisov announced the resignation of his government Feb. 20. President Rosen Plevneliev is seeking to form a caretaker government before calling early elections. Demonstrations, especially over high electricity and heating bills, have spread throughout the country, with protesters blocking roads and clashing with police in several towns. (Bloomberg, Feb. 26; Al Jazeera, Feb. 21; Critic Atac, Romania, Feb. 20)