March 24, 2012
Portuguese police have attacked demonstrators protesting nationwide against the government’s austerity measures.
Demonstrations were held on Thursday in 38 cities and towns across Portugal, including the capital city of Lisbon, Oporto – the second largest city after Lisbon — and Coimbra, AFP reported.
In Lisbon, police resorted to baton charge and arrests to disperse the protesters.
At least one demonstrator was arrested in Oporto as protesters expressed outrage at Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho during a visit to the northern city’s university.
The nationwide protests were part of a 24-hour strike against austerity measures adopted by the government in return for an international bailout. During the Thursday strike which was led by Portugal’s biggest union — the General Confederation of Portuguese Workers (CGTP) – public services across the country ground to a halt.
The trains and subways in Lisbon and Oporto, and the majority of ports, including the port of Lisbon and Viana do Castelo in the north, were shut down.
The strike is aimed at opposing changes to labor laws that make it easier to fire workers, reduce holidays and cut layoff compensation. The government argues that these changes will revive the economy.
Some European economies have introduced strict austerity plans to tackle their debt crises. The spending cuts have caused deep discontent among people in those countries.
Angel Gurria, secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said in a Thursday interview that the eurozone needs a bailout fund of at least 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) to prevent its debt crisis from expanding to other European states.