• Trade unions: 'Low salaries do not pave the way to growth' (Photo: Ojo Espejo)

May day protests planned in several European cities

01.05.12 @ 09:30

  1. By Nikolaj Nielsen
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BRUSSELS - Demonstrations linked to the Occupy movement have been announced in Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona and London for International Workers' Day on (Tuesday) 1 May.

The European Trade Unions' Confederation (ETUC) said it wants to mark 1 May as a day of youth employment and social justice. It said austerity measures have resulted in an insecure labour market, especially among young people.

"Making jobs unsecure, and especially jobs for young people, is not a solution to the crisis. Flexible employment contracts and low salaries do not pave the way to growth," said ETUC general secretary Bernadette Segol in a statement.

In a 1 May speech in Copenhagen, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and current chair of the EU presidency, adopted the German line on austerity.

Praising Danish workers for reining in salary negotiations, she said: "They know that it costs jobs and thins out the order books if wages rise more in Denmark than in the countries we compete with.

Europe currently has one of the highest unemployment rates since the introduction of the euro in 1999. Nearly 24 million Europeans are jobless with some 5.5 million young people among them.

The problem is acute in Spain, where one in four Spaniards are unemployed.

The El Pais newspaper reported that some 70,000 protestors gathered in Madrid on Sunday.

Spanish centre-right Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told them that cuts would continue as Madrid slashes government spending to get its deficit from 8.5 percent of GDP down to 3 percent next year.

Spain's indignados have planned a global day of protests on 12 May. A website supporting the movement has already announced hundreds of protests throughout Europe.