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Portuguese Protest Austerity Measures

Demonstrators wave a Portuguese flag and shout slogans outside the parliament, at right, during a workers protest, Lisbon, Thursday, March 22, 2012.
Demonstrators started a fire outside the Portuguese parliament in Lisbon Monday night, protesting government plans to increase austerity measures.

The government led by Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho announced a budget plan for next year that includes sharp tax increases, pension cuts and other saving measures.

Protesters gathered outside the National Assembly lit a huge model of a data stick, representing all the new budget data.

The draft budget for 2013 is one of the harshest in Portugal's recent history and could take away the equivalent of a month's wages for many workers.

The government says the measures are needed to cut the national debt as Portugal strives to restore its financial health. Critics say the measures will choke the economy.

Last year, Portugal received more than $100 billion in a rescue package from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to avert bankruptcy.

Portugal's largest union - the General Confederation of Portuguese Workers - has announced a general strike against austerity for November 14.