Europe at standstill as austerity strikes hit

STRIKES in protest at austerity measures delayed flights in Paris, grounded traffic in Belgium and promised headaches for travellers around Europe.

Workers walked off the job to show their ire at budget-slashing measures by their governments to tackle debt and high deficits, while officials scrambled to mitigate delays and cancellations.

Eurostar and Thalys idled part of their service through Brussels as transport workers walked off the job. In France, a strike by airport security personnel stretched into its seventh day, and in London, Arsenal FC postponed its December 26 game against Wolverhampton Wanderers by 24 hours because of a planned public transport strike on Stephen’s Day.

The French government, anxious to avoid angering voters ahead of next spring’s presidential election, was looking at options to get police to replace security personnel. Delays appeared to be shortening.

In the Netherlands, doctors got in on the act, with about one-in-six holding a three-hour wildcat strike after parliament approved plans to reduce their reimbursement for many common procedures. Doctors who participated said they were only available in case of emergency.

In Greece, train workers planned a five-hour work stoppage from noon yesterday, and in Spain more airline and transport action is expected next week, with Iberia pilots to strike again on December 29 over the state company’s decision to launch a low cost airline.

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