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Thousands of angry Europeans protest against austerity

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Thousands of angry Europeans protest against austerity

No to austerity - Photo ETUC

(LUXEMBOURG) - Thousands of angry European trade unionists swamped Luxembourg's city centre Tuesday, shouting "No to Austerity!" and demanding EU governments fund jobs rather than service deficits.

Police said 7,500 people from across Europe poured off two trains and 130 buses in the demonstration while the organisers, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), estimated the rally at 15,000 to 20,000 people.

Held as the European Union prepares for a summit Thursday and Friday to be dominated by the continent's sovereign debt crisis and events in Greece, the march was called to prod EU leaders to focus on jobs rather than deficits.

The 27-nation bloc's "main problem is not deficits but unemployment", said the ETUC's president, Spaniard Ignacio Toxo, whose group represents 83 union confederations from 36 European countries.

He told a news conference that European governance should be directed "at bolstering its social model rather than attacking it" as was the case in Greece, and that Athens should be given until 2016 to reduce its debt, rather than 2014 as is the case.

France's Bernadette Segol, the secretary general of the confederation, said: "We're not opposed to government measures to balance their books but we are opposed to adjustments falling solely on wage-earners and workers."

Measures to force governments to stick to strict debt and deficit ceilings must not lead to a lowering of wages or an end to wage indexation, she added.

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