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Portugal rail, bus services hit by strike

Public transport in Portugal was on Wednesday disrupted by a strike in protest at government plans to alter working conditions to make the recession-struck country more competitive.

The 24-hour strike mostly affected rail and bus services in Lisbon and the northern city of Oporto although some buses and trains were running.

On Tuesday, striking dockworkers crippled Portugal’s main harbours to protest the reforms including the easing of limits on working hours, new rules to make hiring and firing easier and the scrapping of certain holidays.

The measures, pushed through by the government, have been fiercely opposed by unions and thousands have taken to the streets in protest.

Unemployment in Portugal, which is carrying out austerity policies under a 78-billion-euro EU-IMF bailout, rose to a record 15 percent in the second quarter, the national statistics institute said this week.