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Portugal

Portuguese general strike seeks to bring country to standstill

REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro

Public and private sector workers in Portugal are staging what unions are describing as the country's biggest ever strike Wednesday, in protest against the unpopular government austerity measures that will see salary cuts and further job losses.

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Unions say over 500 flights are due to be cancelled and major ports including Lisbon and Setubal will grind to a halt.

The strike will also affect banks, media and petrol deliveries.

Head of the major CGTP union, Manuel Carvalho da Silva said "the mobilisation of workers is enormous”.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Portugal's main opposition party said it does not intend to block the government's proposed 2011 budget, which is likely to be adopted Friday.

The new budget aims to reduce the deficit from 7.3 percent of GDP to 4.6 percent by next year through a number of spending cuts and tax increases, including public-sector salary cuts equal to 5 billion euros.

Unemployment in Portugal currently stands at its highest ever level of 10.9 percent.

Socialist Prime Minister Jose Socrates has shrugged off suggestions that his country will follow Ireland in receiving a European Union bailout, insisting Portugal does not require financial aid.

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