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Europe witnesses wave of May Day rallies

FXstreet.com (Barcelona) - Thousands of protesters took to the streets during this year’s May Day holiday to demonstrate their opposition towards the harsh austerity measures implemented by national governments in an attempt to stave off the crisis.

The demonstrations in Greece, where over the weekend the parliament approved new austerity measures including a layoff of 15000 civil servants, were quite peaceful. There were much less protesters than last year and no clashes with the police were noted. Bank and hospital workers held a one day strike, public transport was disrupted.

Ilias Iliopoulos, general secretary of the civil servants union ADEDY, told Reuters: "Our message today is very clear: Enough with these policies which hurt people and make the poor poorer."

In Spain, where the unemployment rate has already reached 27%, the two largest trade unions, CCOO and UGT, organized over 80 protests in various cities. General Secretary of the UGT Cándido Méndez said that there had "never been a May 1 with more reason to take to the streets".

French workers also took to the streets, with many protesting against President Francois Hollande and his severe fiscal policy. Meanwhile, in Turkey rallies turned violent with crowds of protesters clashing with the police.

“For the first time in generations, numerous parents fear that the future living standards of their children will be lower than their own,” Tony Barber writes in the Financial Times about today’s May Day demonstrations. “Their sense of powerlessness is all the greater because, in or out of government, Europe’s centre-left parties – once the formidable political voice of the organised working classes – no longer appear capable of fulfilling their historical mission as protectors of jobs, welfare and social cohesion.”

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