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November 23, 2011

Portuguese Protest Strike Disrupts Rail Service, Flights Canceled

Rail service was disrupted and dozen of flights cancelled in Portugal on Thursday as union workers staged a nationwide day-long strike to protest austerity measures adopted in return for an international bailout.

The country's two largest trade unions representing more than one million workers planned to hold more than 30 marches. The strike was also expected to impact schools and hospitals.

The unions had urged workers for weeks to strike against measures that include higher taxes and cutting civil servants' holidays and bonuses.

Portugal must meet European Union conditions for a $104 billion international bailout to rescue it from its worst economic crisis in decades.

The centrist government of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, which came to power in June, and the opposition Socialist Party have agreed to the bailout conditions.

But the planned spending cuts, combined with declining living standards and high unemployment, have sparked anger in the nation of 11 million people.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.