In Italy, there were rallies were held across the country.
Demonstrators expressed their disdain for the German chancellor Angela Merkel, who has insisted on stringent economy measures in southern Europe if she is to support EU financial rescue plans.
Students and teachers also joined marches.
In Rome, pensioner Elio Lauria said: “I hope all of Europe’s unions can unite to fight against this crisis which is only penalising those with the least money.”
Other demonstrators denounced the policy of cutbacks saying the current economic path was leading to a disastrous future.
The four hour strike, called by Italy’s biggest union, also affected ports and the railway network.
Two other big union groups refused to take part in the action while talks on other projects were underway.