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Europe prepares for historic strikes

posted 13 Nov 2012, 08:50 by Mpelembe   [ updated 13 Nov 2012, 08:51 ]

Reuters Business  Report -  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.


"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.

Michael Leister, senior rates strategist, Commerzbank:

"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.


"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 GreeceItaly and France.