A general strike in Greece grounds flights, halts most public services and shuts offices and shops, as Greece is struggling to reduce a huge government deficit amid fears it may default and set off a eurozone crisis
A general strike in Greece grounds flights, halts most public services and shuts offices and shops, as Greece is struggling to reduce a huge government deficit amid fears it may default and set off a eurozone crisis.
ATHENS / NationalTurk – Greece will be paralyzed by a massive two-day strike starting off Wednesday as groups ranging from civil servants to pharmacists and bakers walk off the job ahead of a key parliamentary vote Thursday on new austerity measures. “We are going to send a loud message to the government and the political system,” stated Costas Tsikrikas, the head of the public workers’ union Adedy. “We believe participation will be huge,” he added. The general strike was called by the country’s two main labor unions, which represent about 2.5 million workers and have led resistance to the new austerity measures that raise taxes and reduce civil servants’ vacation pay by 30
The strikers have gathered for demonstrations at 08:00 GMT in Athens and Thessaloniki. Amid fears of violence, police adopted stepped up security measures Wednesday, including special protections around Greece parliament where debate on the austerity measures were being held for a second day.
Greece Debt Greece Austerity Greece Strike..Where does the country go ?
Across Greece, public services were and will be frozen, with central and local government offices closed, schools and courts shut, and hospitals operating at bare minimum staff levels.The 48-hour strike comes as parliament prepares to vote on the latest round of austerity measures, including more tax hikes, pay cuts and job losses.
Transport services were disrupted as ferry operations were suspended by a dockworkers’ strike, while national rail services ground to a halt, and Greece’s two major airlines—Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines canceled dozens of flights owing to a 12-hour walkout by air traffic controllers.
Tens of thousands of Greek retailers and small businesses joined in, shutting their shops in protest over recent tax hikes and government cuts that have pushed the country deep into recession and led to a dramatic rise in the number of businesses declaring bankruptcies.
The 48-hour strike, called by private-sector umbrella union GSEE and its public-sector counterpart ADEDY, is the second time this year that the two unions have called a two-day walkout over government austerity measures. It follows weeks of almost daily strikes, demonstrations and sit-ins, as well as a two-week-long protest by municipal workers that has left uncollected garbage piling up on the streets of Athens and other cities.
Greece Strike prior to critical parliament vote to decrease debt
Under pressure from its international creditors, Greece’s government this month submitted legislation that would further cut public-sector jobs and wages, slash pensions for high-income earners, curtail collective-bargaining rights for workers and enact a new levies on taxpayers, among other things.
On Thursday, Parliament will vote on the bill just days before a Sunday summit of European leaders that is expected to produce a comprehensive solution to the bloc’s debt crisis, and which will also decide whether to release badly needed aid for Greece.
At stake is an €8 billion ($11.0 billion) tranche of aid from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund that Greece needs in the next few weeks. The government has said that without the funding, it will run out of money by mid-November.
But the measures have also exposed a deep rift within the ruling Socialist party, which has seen its popularity plummet to historic lows. The vote is expected to test the government’s grip on power, with the Socialists commanding just a narrow four-seat majority in Greece’s 300-member parliament.
On the other side of the argument, a bullish PM George Papandreou said he wanted to talk to the people who he said were blackmailing the country by blockading and stopping everything working. He is under tremendous pressure at home from disgruntled people in the public sector. But also some in the private sector will be on strike. They say they are being squeezed to death by rising taxes.