Strikes hit France and Germany

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A wave of labour unrest is breaking out in France and Germany in response to new austerity measures in both countries. Trade unions called protests in France yesterday after Prime Minister Alain Juppe said he wanted to rid the civil service of "layers of fat" to reduce the budget deficit. The public service trade union umbrella group UNSA called for a national day of demonstrations on 29 May.

In Germany, more than 50,000 mass transit workers, refuse collectors and hospital employees went on warning strikes in the biggest nationwide protests yet against a government austerity plan. Unions representing 3.2 million public-sector workers launched the limited strikes last Thursday. In both countries, the government needs to cut public spending to meet European Union criteria for monetary union. Agencies

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