BRUSSELS (AP) -- Tens of thousands of workers protested close to European Union headquarters Friday to demand more action to protect their jobs during the economic downturn.
Trade union representatives from several EU nations urged a "new social deal for Europe" in which workers get the same kind of protection as banks.
As many as 50,000 people demonstrated in Madrid on Thursday to push the same demands. Protests in Prague and Berlin are planned on Saturday.
The EU has predicted that the jobless rate in the 16 nations that use the euro will climb to 9.9 percent this year and 11.5 percent next year -- the highest since World War II.
"The situation is bad today and it will be worse tomorrow through this year and next winter," said John Monks, the head of the European Trade Union Confederation.
"It may be that shares bounce. It may be there are a few green shoots in the economy. But as far as unemployment is concerned, the outlook is very difficult," Monks said during the march through Brussels.
ETUC claimed 50,000 people took part in the demonstration Friday.
The unions are demanding that government measures to combat the effects of the global economic crisis boost social justice and solidarity, and provide more and safer jobs.
This week, though, the EU's economic and monetary affairs commissioner, said the social spending that helps people now could compromise state finances in the long term and there will likely be a reassessment of benefit levels.
The rising number of jobless will hit the public purse hard, with the EU predicting that some 8.5 million jobs will disappear this year and next year.
The EU forecasts Spanish unemployment will rise to 20 percent while the France and Britain will each have over 3 million unemployed next year.
Germany, the region's largest economy, will lose 1.5 million jobs by the end of next year, it says.