Michael Birnbaum
November 14, 2012

A wave of labor unrest swept across Europe on Wednesday, with workers coordinating across borders in hard-hit countries to protest years of narrowing prospects, shrinking wages and sky-high unemployment.

In what appeared to be the most coordinated pan-continental labor disruption since the euro crisis began more than three years ago, Spanish and Portuguese workers went on a general strike while Italian and Greek unions held part-day work stoppages. There was a limited strike in Belgium and small protests in richer nations across Europe.

But the protests seemed unlikely to disrupt what has become an almost unstoppable trend: grinding, painful austerity in the struggling southern European countries and limited prospects for the future. In Spain, many industrial workers were on strike. Italian unionists clashed with police. Transportation was hard hit in Portugal. In some countries, electricity consumption dropped noticeably as factories were idled.

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