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Portugal opposition in new austerity challenge at court

Portugal's main opposition party on Thursday took a new law extending civil servants' working hours to the country's highest court, in a fresh challenge against the tough austerity measures imposed by the government in exchange for bailout funds. The law requires civil servants to extend their working hours from 35 to 40 a week. The government hopes that it will translate to 204 million euros in savings by the end of next year.

Post for Italy's Dr Subtle sparks fury over political perks

ROME (Reuters) - The nomination of a former Italian prime minister notorious for collecting multiple state pensions to a lucrative new job has sparked fury among Italians fed up with the privileges of a political class seemingly immune to austerity. Veteran two-time centre-left premier Giuliano Amato, 75, nicknamed "Dr Subtle" for his political acumen, was named as a constitutional court judge on Thursday.

Millions more Europeans at risk of poverty if austerity drags on

Up to 25 million more Europeans are at risk of sinking into poverty by 2025 if governments push on with austerity measures, international aid agency Oxfam warned Wednesday, calling such policies "moral and economic nonsense". "Europe's handling of the economic crisis threatens to roll-back decades of social rights," said Natalia Alonso, head of Oxfam's EU office.

Federal judge rules Wisconsin's union reforms constitutional

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Wisconsin's controversial collective bargaining reforms do not violate the free speech and equal protection rights of public sector union workers, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday. The reforms, passed in 2011 by Republican lawmakers, severely limit the bargaining power of public sector unions while forcing most state workers to pay more for benefits such as health insurance and pensions. They also made payment of union dues voluntary and forced unions to be recertified every year.

Student's death touches nerve in austerity-hit Greece

By Harry Papachristou ATHENS (Reuters) - A 19-year-old Greek student who died after an argument with a bus ticket inspector has come to symbolize the plight of a population ground down by worsening poverty and unemployment. Thanassis Kanaoutis suffered a fatal head injury when he fell or jumped from a moving bus as it passed through a middle-class neighborhood of Athens late on Tuesday. Prosecutors have not yet established how Kanaoutis died.

Michigan appeals court rules against unions in right-to-work case

By Brendan O'Brien (Reuters) - The Michigan Legislature's right to create a law that bans mandatory union membership trumps the authority of a state agency that oversees public employment, an appeals court ruled on Thursday. The state legislature passed the "right to work" law in December amid union protests in Lansing, dealing a stunning blow to organized labor in the state that is home to U.S. automakers and the symbol of industrial labor in the United States.

UK economic recovery gains momentum as growth in Q2 increases to 0.6 per cent

LONDON - The British economy grew by 0.6 per cent in the second quarter compared with the previous three month period, official figures showed Thursday in the latest sign that Europe's third largest economy is on a firmer footing. The increase in the country's annual gross domestic product, as reported by the Office for National Statistics, was double the previous quarter's rate but in line with market expectations. Services, agriculture, manufacturing and construction industries all contributed to the quarterly rise.

Italian doctors strike over cuts to health service

ROME (Reuters) - Thousands of doctors went on strike across Italy on Monday to protest against cuts to the country's health service, raising pressure on Prime Minister Enrico Letta's government as it seeks further ways to slash spending. About a hundred medics observing the four-hour strike gathered outside the Economy Ministry in Rome, waving banners and demanding more state resources for healthcare.

Schaeuble says new aid for Greece possible, if surplus

German Finance Minsiter Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Thursday new financial aid towards Greece could be considered a day after parliament passed new austerity measures. "Possibly there could be a discussion regarding new (aid) towards the end of 2014 if Greece achieves primary surplus," the German minister told journalists at a press conference on a visit to Athens. jph/kv/arp

Schaeuble says new aid for Greece possible, if surplus

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Thursday new financial aid towards Greece could be considered a day after Greek parliament passed new austerity measures. "Possibly there could be a discussion regarding new (aid) towards the end of 2014 if Greece achieves primary surplus," the German minister told journalists at a press conference on a visit to Athens. jph/kv/arp
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