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General strike to disrupt services on Wednesday; media blackout on Tuesday

State services will grind to a halt Wednesday and public transport will be disrupted in Athens as workers join a 24-hour general strike called by the country’s two main labor unions.

Transport workers will run a limited service Wednesday so that people can attend protest rallies planned for the city center. Commuters will get a taste of the upheaval from Tuesday when trolley bus employees are to stage a five-hour walkout from 11 a.m. On Wednesday, buses and trolley buses will run between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Staff on the Athens metro, tram and the Piraeus-Kifissia electric railway (ISAP) are to decide Tuesday on Wednesday’s action.

There will be no trains running nor ferries sailing Wednesday as employees of the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) and the country’s seamen walk off the job. The Proastiakos suburban railway will also halt its services Wednesday.

As is usual on general strike days, tax offices and municipal services will be closed to the public as employees are expected to join the action en masse. Hospitals will be operating on skeleton staff and schools will close as doctors and teachers join the action.

Lawyers, engineers and construction workers, whose sector has been particularly hard hit by the economic crisis, are expected to join the action Wednesday too.

Meanwhile, there will be a media blackout in Greece on Tuesday, 24 hours ahead of the general strike.

Journalists’ union ESIEA decided to hold the strike in solidarity with the 24-hour action called by GSEE and ADEDY, but wanted to ensure there was media coverage of the protest planned for Wednesday.

This led to the journalists’ strike being held on Tuesday. Normal broadcasts of news-related shows will stop at 6 a.m. on Tuesday and resume on Wednesday at 6 a.m. There will be no newspapers available on Wednesday morning.

Unions have ratcheted up their opposition to the government’s austerity drive ahead of the expected return to Athens next week of troika officials. The inspectors are expected to push authorities to carry out layoffs in the public sector and press ahead with the privatization of state assets, both heavily opposed by unions. Salary cuts are another bone of contention, with unionists upping the ante following suggestions by a Finance Ministry official that the minimum wage could be reduced again.

ekathimerini.com , Monday February 18, 2013 (22:44)  
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