Greece: Riot Police Called Amid Major Strike

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Greece: Riot Police Called Amid Major Strike

Post by Isakenaz on Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:19 am

Riot police have fired tear gas grenades as thousands of Greek civil servants staged a walk-out over the country's austerity measures.

Scuffles broke out between police and protesters as they marched with orange flags and placards through the streets of Athens in a demonstration that has left flights grounded and trains idle as state services shut down.

Organised by the country's two biggest labour unions, the 24-hour strike is the first since the government in Athens announced plans to further slash pensions and wages, and close scores of state organisations.

They will ultimately axe 30,000 public sector jobs by the end of the year.

The strike comes days after Athens admitted it would miss deficit-reduction targets through 2012 - a confession that sent global shares into a tailspin and the euro swooning to record lows.

What is more, European finance ministers announced they would delay their decision on whether to give an 8 billion euro tranche of rescue aid to Athens until November.

Without the aid, Athens could be forced to default or restructure its 350 billion euro debt.

Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos said Athens had the funds to remain afloat through November, a sharp climbdown from an earlier statement that it could pay pensions, salaries and bondholders only through October.

Greece's main labour unions have staged repeated strikes since the government asked the European Union and International Monetary Fund for a financial lifeline of 110 billion euros last May.

But in recent weeks, public anger and worry dramatically swelled, sending thousands of workers to the streets, setting tax bills ablaze during demonstrations - even occupying seven state buildings, including the finance ministry.

Wednesday's strike marks a test of strength for the Government as it strives to implement the new austerity measures.

It will also test the influence of labour unions.

Squeezed by a deepening recession and rising rates of unemployment, Greeks say the salary cuts and tax spikes hurt the middle class, pushing the economy deeper into recession.

Another general strike has been called for October 19.

"These are barbaric policies that suck dry workers' rights and revenues," said Stathis Anestis, a union spokesman for the General Confederation of Greek Workers.

"With this strike, the Government, the Europeans and the International Monetary Fund will be forced to reconsider these disastrous policies." http://uk.news.yahoo.com/greece-grinds-halt-amid-general-strike-102714158.html
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