Sunday, May 22, 2011

Czechs protest govt. austerity measures

A file photo showing Czech workers protesting the government planned austerity cuts, September 2010

Source: Press TV

Tens of thousands of Czech workers including union leaders have taken to the streets of the capital city, Prague, to protest the government's planned austerity measures.

During the protests, the union leaders said their members would bear the brunt of the government's plans to cut pensions, healthcare and social benefits, and called for a new election, Reuters reported.

The austerity measures include increasing the retirement age, diverting part of pensions to private funds, and raising payments for healthcare, and etc.

"We are refusing your pension theft," a union leader said, addressing the government at Prague's central Wenceslas Square.

The unions have also threatened to call for a general strike if the government implements the planned reforms that are scheduled to be submitted to parliament in June.

The government says the reforms are necessary to compensate for the country's debt and to balance the budget by 2016.

The development came as similar demonstrations have been held in other European countries in protest at the austerity measures adopted by governments.

On Saturday, mass protests were held in Spain against unemployment and tight austerity measures for a seventh consecutive day.

Tens of thousands of Spaniards converged in squares in several cities across the country to express their fury at what they described as the Socialist government's ineptitude to tackle the growing financial crisis in the Eurozone's fourth-largest economy.

Earlier, protests were also held In Italy against the increasing number of government cuts on social services for the disabled, aimed at reducing. The Italian government says the cuts are needed to rid the country of its recession.

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