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Portugal hit by rail strike

Portugal was hit Thursday with massive rail disruptions as more than two-thirds of train services were cancelled due to a 24-hour strike over reform of the transport sector.

The main transport union had called the walkout to protest against a plan to merge Refer, which manages the rail network, and Estradas de Portugal, which manages the road infrastructure.

Unions say the merger would lead to job cuts, while Economy Minister Antonio Pires de Lima said it could generate savings of at least 50 million euros.

Portugal exited a 78-billion-euro ($100-billion) bailout scheme in May, but it is still carrying out economic reforms — many of which are contested by a population tired of years of austerity.

Unions of the state-owned airline TAP have also called a strike from December 27 to 30 in action against the planned privatisation of the company.