Europe

Strike shuts down Madrid's metro

Commuters queue for the bus during a metro strike in Madrid, 29 June 2010
Image caption Commuters were forced to seek alternative forms of transport

Employees of Madrid's metro have been striking for a second day in a three-day protest against austerity measures.

After a partial strike on Monday, no metro trains were running on Tuesday.

More than two million people use Madrid's metro daily, and the strike caused chaos for commuters.

Trade unions in Spain have called a general strike for 29 September in protest against spending cuts and labour market reforms.

The metro workers are striking against a cut of about 5% in public sector wages that is part of a broader package of austerity measures.

The Spanish government is trying to reduce the country's budget deficit, which is currently running at more than 11% of GDP - far above the 3% limit imposed by the EU.

The strike was the first time in nearly 20 years that the entire metro system had been halted by industrial action, according to local media reports.

Madrid's regional government has warned that the failure to provide even a minimum service on the metro is illegal, but unions have been defiant, saying the strike will continue for a third day.

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