Misery for thousands of British air passengers as anti-austerity strikes hit Europe and angry clashes break out in Oxford Street

Read Time:11 Minute, 53 Second

  • Around 800  flights to and from Portugal and Spain cancelled
  • Walkouts and protests  planned across Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy
  • London protests planned  to coincide with European walkouts
  • Unions fighting  cuts demand an end to ‘unbearable’ austerity measures
  • British air passengers  grounded with dozens of flights cancelled
  • Eurostar passengers being  urged not to travel on trains to Brussels

Video Added:

By Daniel Miller

PUBLISHED:05:22 EST, 14  November 2012| UPDATED:11:14 EST, 14 November 2012

Thousands of British air passengers have been  left stranded today as a wave of anti-austerity strikes hit mainland Europe  shutting down airports and bringing many public services to a grinding  halt.

Heathrow has seen 39 cancellations with British Airways axing flights to Madrid  and Barcelona as well as return services to Lisbon in Portugal. EasyJet have  cancelled some UK-Spanish services as well as more than 20 flights within  mainland Europe.

And there were angry scenes as protesters  clashed with police on Oxford Street during a demonstration against the sacking  of 28 Crossrail workers which had been planned to coincide with European  strikes.

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Blaze: A car set on fire by protesters on an industrial estate to cut off access to the city Lugo in northwestern SpainSPAIN: A car set on fire by protesters on an industrial  estate cuts off access to the city Lugo in northwestern Spain

Turnout: A large group of demonstrators file though one of the main streets in the Italian city of TerniITALY: A large group of demonstrators file though one of  the main streets in the Italian city of Terni

Haze: A police officer watches a man brandishing a flare during an anti-austerity protest in Lille in northern FranceFRANCE: A police officer watches a man brandishing a  flare during an anti-austerity protest in Lille in northern France

London: Protesters tussle with police on Oxford Street in a demonstration over the dismissals of 28 Crossrail workers being held to coincide with the planned anti-austerity strikes happening across Europe today LONDON: Protesters tussle with police on Oxford Street  in a demonstration over the dismissals of 28 Crossrail workers being held to  coincide with the planned anti-austerity strikes happening across Europe today

SNAPSHOT OF MISERY: HOW THE  UNREST HAS UNFOLDED ACROSS EUROPE

Riot police apprehend a protestor during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday,Anger: Riot police apprehend a protestor during unrest  in Madrid

SPAIN

  • By 4pm, 82 people arrested and 34 injured in  clashes in Madrid, Valencia, Tarragona, Murcia and the region of  Asturias
  • A couple carrying bomb-making materials  including gasoline, gas bottles, screws and nails arrested in Madrid while a boy  of ten was ‘left bleeding from the head’ after being beaten in a police  charge
  • At least 18 students and pickets were  arrested in valencia as police baton-charge demonstrators
  • In Asturias, two officers were injured as  protester shoot fireworks at a police van
  • Nearly 100 per cent of workers in the motor,  energy, shipbuilding and construction industries on strike, crippling  services
  • More than 600 flights were cancelled while  just 20 percent of long-distance trains and a third of its commuter trains in  service
  • Protesters jammed cash machines with glue  and coins and plastered anti-government stickers on shop windows around Spain  while power consumption dropped 16 percent with factories  idled.

ITALY

  • Protests turned ugly in Milan, Rome and the  northwest city of Turin. Rallies were also held in Naples, Bologna and  Modena.
  • Police say several officers were injured  during clashes in Rome after students tried to rush a police van. A handful of  protesters were detained briefly.
  • Italy’s biggest union, CGIL, called for a  work stoppage for several hours across the country.
  • The transportation ministry expected trains  and ferries to halt for four hours while students and teachers are expected to  march.

LONDON

  • Heathrow Airport has seen 39  cancellations
  • And there were angry scenes as protesters  clashed with police on Oxford Street during a demonstration against the sacking  of 28 Crossrail workers.

FRANCE

  • Protests take place in Paris, Lille and  Marseille
  • Five trade unions organised marches in more  than 100 cities but did not call for a strike.

So far only flights to and from  Portugal and  Spain have been affected by with an estimated 800  cancellations – roughly 40  per cent of the daily average.

More than 600 flights were cancelled in  Spain, mainly by Iberia and budget  carrier Vueling. Portugal’s flag carrier TAP  cancelled roughly 45  percent of flights.

British Airways said: ‘We are doing all we  can to minimise the disruption to our customers.’

‘Customers due to fly to or from  Spain today  can rebook to an alternate date free of charge. Customers on cancelled services  can also take a full refund.

‘We are also looking at putting on  larger  aircraft to help as many customers as possible. We are advising  customers to  check ba.com for the latest flight information.

‘We apologise to our customers for any  inconvenience caused by industrial action which is beyond our  control.’

Road block: Protesters form a human chain to block traffic on one side of Oxford Street in a demonstration against austerity measures and the dismissal of Crossrail workersRoad block: Protesters form a human chain to stop  traffic on one side  of Oxford Street in a demonstration against austerity  measures and the  dismissal of Crossrail workers

Solidarity: The Oxford Street protest was held to coincide with planned European strikes in Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, France and Belgium against austerity measures and economic reforms

A shop hurriedly closes its shutters as demonstrators shout slogans forcing it to close for business at Barajas airport in Madrid, SpainShutting up: A shop hurriedly closes its shutters as  demonstrators shout slogans  forcing it to close for business at Barajas airport  in Madrid, Spain

Demonstrators set up a barricade of burning tyres at the main entrance of Barcelona's biggest wholesale market part of a wave of anti-austerity protests happening across Europe

Pickets clash with police as they try to prevent buses from leaving a depot in Bilbao, northern Spain

No go zone: Pickets gather on the streets of Barcelona shutting down key transport links No go zone: Pickets gather on the streets of Barcelona  shutting down key transport links

Fury: A protestor hurls a stone at a truck in Barcelona. The General Workers Union said the stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 per cent of workers in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries

Security: Dozens of police officers stand guard at Madrid's Atocha rail station with the nationwide strike threatening to cripple public transportSecurity: Dozens of police officers stand guard at  Madrid’s Atocha rail station with the nationwide strike threatening to cripple  public transport

A Heathrow spokesman added: ‘Most people seem  to have got the message that some  flights were going to be axed and the  terminals are operating smoothly.

‘Flight cancellations are never good news,  but we do operate around 1,300  flights a day so the figure of 39 is a  comparatively small one.’

A London easyjet flight to Thessalonaki in  Greece was delayed for three  hours 40 minutes with another to Athens held for  two hours 30 minutes. A Manchester-Athens flight was delayed for two hours 10  minutes.

The 10.57am London to Brussels Eurostar train  service was cancelled, with  the company hoping to accommodate the affected  passengers on the 12.57pm service.

‘Further disruptions are possible throughout  the day and customers are advised not to travel,’ Eurostar warned  customers.

Coordinated walkouts and protests  have been  planned across Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy as part of a  trade-union  organised European Day of Action and Solidarity.

Rome: Italian demonstrators march through the streets as thousands turned out in major cities across the country including Milan and Turin to join the wave of European protests

Leaning to the left: A banner reading: 'Rise Up! We don't pay your crisis' is unfolded by protesting students at the top of the leaning tower of Pisa

Italy: Demonstrators carry placards and shout slogans as they march through the streets of RomeItaly: Demonstrators carry placards and shout slogans as  they march through the streets of Rome

Demonstrators clash with riot police during a protest against Italian Government austerity measures in Rome

Protesters burn an EU flag after storming the regional Palace of the Province in Turin and piling furniture onto the streetProtesters burn an EU flag after storming the regional  Palace of the Province in Turin and piling furniture onto the street

In Spain, the interior ministry said  32  people had been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries  after  disturbances including trouble in the capital Madrid where an  evening rally  outside the parliament has been planned.

The General Workers Union said the stoppage,  the second in Spain this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 per cent of  workers in the motor,  energy, shipbuilding and construction  industries.

Bernadette Segol, general secretary of the  European Trade Union Confederation told Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘The trade  unions in Europe want to show  that these policies will change. That the result  is not what they want  to be.

‘That we have more recession and unemployment  and we want to change these policies.

‘It’s now getting unbearable. It’s high time  to change the aim and the policies.

‘The democratic deficit is quite clear. This  is much more than recommendations. It’s obligations that they have to  apply.

‘Greece don’t want to leave the euro and they  shouldn’t leave the euro.

France: Workers shout slogans and hold a banner during a demonstration against austerity in Marseille
A French worker holds placards reading 'We are all Greek, enough austerity', during a demonstration in Marseille

‘What is being done to make sure that tax  evasion is stopped? We don’t see  anything happening on that front. And it’s  always the normal people who  are paying – so you can imagine their  anger.

‘Just stop the austerity measures. They are  counter-productive. They do have  to pay their debt back – but the way to pay  the debt back is not to have a bigger recession.’

Spain  is the Eurozone’s fourth largest  economy but is in the grip of an  unemployment crisis with one in four adults  currently out of work.

Some five million people, or 22 per cent of  the workforce, are union members in Spain.  Just 20 percent of Spain’s  long-distance trains and a third  of its commuter trains are expected to  run.

However Ministry official Cristina Diaz  played down participation, saying it  was hardly noticeable in goods haulage and  major city wholesale food  markets.

She said electricity consumption, a gauge of  industrial activity, was down only 11 per cent on a normal working  day.

In Portugal about one fourth of the 5.5  million strong workforce is  unionised. Unions have planned rallies and marches  in cities throughout  both countries, with a major demonstration beginning at  6:30 p.m in Madrid.

Lisbon’s Metro will be shut completely and  only 10 percent of all trains will run under court-ordered minimum  service.

The international coordination shows ‘we are  looking at a historic moment  in the European Union movement,’ said Fernando  Toxo, head of Spain’s  biggest union, Comisiones Obreras.

Greece: A banner proclaims: 'Austerity kills dignity - reclaim Europe' during a protest outside the Greek parliament in Athens Greece: A banner proclaims: ‘Austerity kills dignity –  reclaim Europe’ during a protest outside the Greek parliament in Athens

A protest leader outside the Greek parliament building in Athens uses a megaphone to rally other demonstrators

A protester shouts slogans during an anti-austerity march through the streets of AthensA protester shouts slogans during an anti-austerity  march through the streets of Athens

Puppets are raised in the air during an anti-austerity protest outside the Greek parliament building in AthensPuppets and flags are raised in the air during an  anti-austerity protest outside the Greek parliament building in Athens

Spain, where one in four workers is  unemployed, is now teetering on the brink  of calling for a European bailout,  with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy  trying to put off a rescue that could require  even more EU-mandated  budget cuts.

Passion has been further inflamed  since last  week when a Spanish woman jumped from her apartment to her  death as bailiffs  tried to evict her when her bank foreclosed on a loan. Spaniards are furious at  banks being rescued with public cash while  ordinary people suffer.

‘We’re going to protest because they’re  ignoring people’s rights. People are  being evicted and they’re raising our  taxes,’ said Sandra Gonzalez, 19, a social work student at Madrid’s Complutense  University who plans to  march with friends.

In  Portugal, which accepted an EU bailout  last year, the streets have been  quieter so far but public and political  opposition to austerity is  mounting, threatening to derail new measures sought  by Prime Minister  Pedro Passos Coelho.

His policies were held up this week as a  model by Germany’s Angela Merkel, a hate figure in crisis-hit southern European  countries.

Delay: A sticker reading 'General strike' is stuck on a flight information board at Madrid Barajas airport

Delay: A sticker reading ‘General strike’ is stuck on a  flight information board at Madrid Barajas airport

Protesters burn tyres at the main entrance to Mercabarna, the biggest wholesale market in Barcelona. Similar work stoppages are taking place in Portugal and Greece, to protest government-imposed austerity measures and labor reformsProtesters burn tyres at the main entrance to  Mercabarna, the biggest wholesale market in Barcelona. Similar work stoppages  are taking place in Portugal and Greece, to protest government-imposed austerity  measures and labor reforms

A demonstrator sits next to a barricade in Barcelona. Protestors from a range of social movements are expected to join striking public sector workers to demonstrate against austerity cuts today‘The first ever Iberian strike’ would be ‘a  great signal of discontent and  also a warning to European authorities,’ said  Armenio Carlos, head of  Portugal’s CGTP union which is organising the action  there

Italy’s biggest union, CGIL, called for a  work stoppage for several hours  across the country. The transportation ministry  expects trains and  ferries to halt for four hours. Students and teachers are  expected to  march.

In Greece, which saw a big two-day strike  last week while parliament voted on new cuts, the  main public and private  sector labour unions called for a three-hour  work stoppage and an  anti-austerity rally in solidarity with the  Spaniards and  Portuguese.

Athens police expect 10,000 demonstrators,  small by the standard of protests there.

This will be the first time Spanish unions  have held two general strikes in  one year. Spain’s last general strike, in  March, brought factories and  ports to a standstill and ignited flashes of  street violence.

Direct action: A demonstrator sprays the word 'Vaga' ('strike' in Catalan) over a truck in BarcelonaDirect action: A demonstrator sprays the word ‘Vaga’  (‘strike’ in Catalan) over a truck in Barcelona

Protesters move a concrete block shut off the main entrance to Mercabarna, the biggest wholesale market in Spain in BarcelonaProtesters move a concrete block shut off the main  entrance to Mercabarna, the biggest wholesale market in Spain in Barcelona

Protests against cuts and economic reforms  have since gained even more steam. A  violent march in Madrid in September –  coupled with riots in Greece –  sparked a September 26 sell-off in the euro and  European and U.S. stock  markets.

Spain’s economy, the euro zone’s  fourth  biggest, will shrink by some 1.5 percent this year, four years  after the crash  of a decade-long building boom left airports, highways  and high-rise buildings  disused across the country. Portugal’s economy  is expected to contract by 3  percent.

Every week seems to bring fresh job cuts.  Spain’s flagship airline Iberia,  owned by UK-based International Airlines  Group, said last week it will  cut 4,500 jobs. The prestigious El Pais newspaper  just laid off almost a quarter of its staff.

Portugal has long avoided the street  unrest  seen in Spain and Greece, but that appears to be changing as the  government  continues to seek new measures to shrink a budget deficit.

A strike organised by CGTP in March  had  little impact, but in September hundreds of thousands of Portuguese  rallied  against a government plan to raise workers’ social security  contributions.

Portugal: Workers on a picket line at the entrance to the Mitrena shipyard, south of Lisbon this morningPortugal: Workers on a picket line at the entrance to  the Mitrena shipyard, south of Lisbon this morning

Target: Two policemen guard a bank in Madrid with graffiti reading 'Assassins' scrawled on the wallTarget: Two policemen guard a bank in Madrid with  graffiti reading ‘Assassins’ scrawled on the wall

Arrest: A protester is hauled away by riot police officers after trying to close a bar as part of strike action in Malaga, southern Spain in the early hours of the morningArrest: A protester is hauled away by riot police  officers after trying to close a bar as part of strike action in Malaga,  southern Spain in the early hours of the morning

Thespian revolt: A crowd gathers around the Teatro Espaol of Madrid where actors have locked themselves inside to protest against austerity cutsThespian revolt: A crowd gathers around the Teatro  Espaol of Madrid where actors have locked themselves inside to protest against  austerity cuts

‘This austerity is a never-ending story. We  see no light at the end of the end of the tunnel, just more pain and  difficulties. We have to protest, do something to stop it,’ said Lisbon  pensioner Jose Marques, who plans to march on Wednesday.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme Richard  Corbett, adviser to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said: ‘A  dilemma is being faced by governments across Europe and it is a challenge. When  you have such high debt levels and still have big deficits you have to address  that question.

‘Greece has been given a low interest loan  but the creditors do want to know that in due course this situation will be  rectified.

‘Greece has a democratic choice. Ultimately  it’s democratic choices that will be made. There does come a limit to how much a  country can sustain a huge deficit.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2232706/Air-passengers-left-stranded-anti-austerity-strikes-Europe.html#ixzz2CDMsfBA3 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook



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