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Portugal hit by nationwide strike

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A woman hands out leaflets callilng for a general strike to commuters in Lisbon (AP)

Public sector workers in Portugal have started a nationwide strike that is expected to cause the biggest disruption in more than 20 years.

The day-long walkout aims to shut down most public services as trade unions fight the government’s austerity measures.

Portugal is under severe pressure to cut a high level of national debt which is undermining its economy and fuelling market concerns that it may need a financial rescue.

The government intends to introduce pay cuts for public employees next year, as well as tax hikes, to help pay off the debt.

Opposition to the measures has united the country’s two largest union federations, representing 1.5 million workers, in their first joint strike since 1988.

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