May Day sparks mass austerity protests across Europe and the Americas
FED up with high unemployment and austerity, May Day protesters have taken to the streets across Europe in a wave of anger that threatens to topple leaders in Paris and Athens.
From the eye of the eurozone debt storm in Madrid to the streets of Paris and Athens, where tottering governments face elections within days, marchers denounced job losses, spending cuts and hard times.
More than two years after the eurozone sovereign debt crisis erupted, frustration with austerity is boiling over across the continent as voters wait in vain for signs of the economic pay-off.
In Spain, suffering the industrialised world's highest jobless rate of 24.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012, the major unions called protests in about 80 cities.
Tens of thousands massed in central Madrid's Neptuno square, decrying the jobless queue, new labour reforms that make it easier and cheaper to fire workers, and a budget squeeze in health care and education.
"They are going to destroy more jobs with the labour reform," complained 28-year-old graphic designer Sonia Calles.
"Already in Spain almost everyone is an intern up to the age of 30. And now employment insecurity is going to hit those in their 30s and 40s," she said in the capital.
Thousands more rallied in Athens, Thessaloniki and other cities around Greece, five days ahead of cliffhanger general elections. ...