Protests against austerity measure spread across Europe

Associated Press / October 16, 2010

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PARIS — French oil workers expanded a strike yesterday over government plans to raise the retirement age, while European discontent over belt-tightening measures flared up in Portugal, Italy, and Greece.

All of France’s oil refineries were on strike after two more plants voted to join the protest yesterday. The government deployed police to force the reopening of several fuel depots that had been blocked, raising concerns of possible gas shortages.

French students clashed with police and labor leaders planned more demonstrations today and Tuesday.

Across Italy, thousands of students and teachers staged demonstrations to protest planned cuts in higher education, while Portugal’s minority government faced a battle in Parliament over its plan for abrupt tax hikes and deep spending cuts.

Meanwhile, a labor dispute that kept out thousands of visitors for three days from debt-ridden Greece’s most famous monument, the Acropolis, ended only after employees were dispersed by riot police using tear gas.

France’s transportation system was running more smoothly yesterday, after severe disruptions hit air, rail, and road traffic earlier in the week.