MADRID — Workers across Europe mounted coordinated protests Wednesday against government austerity policies in a time of economic malaise.
In Spain and Portugal, workers staged general strikes. Unions in Greece, Italy, France and Belgium joined in protests and work stoppages to show solidarity with striking workers elsewhere.
The breadth of the demonstrations, which affected scores of cities, reflected widespread unhappiness with high unemployment, slowing growth and worsening economic prospects in Europe, and the resistance that European governments confront as they push plans for more belt tightening.
Occasional clashes with police were reported in some cities.
Among those striking Wednesday were railroad workers in Belgium; airline, autoworkers and teachers in Spain; civil servants in Italy; and transit workers in Portugal. Union leaders called the coordinated actions historic.
Government officials generally played down the disruptions caused by the actions and said their countries had no alternative but to cut spending and reduce their deficits. The Spanish economy minister, Luis de Guindos, said his government “is convinced that the path we have taken is the only possible way out."
The Spanish police reported that 82 people had been arrested by late afternoon, and 34 were wounded, including 18 police officers, mainly during violence on picket lines.