Sunday April 26, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
14o C
09o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Tens of thousands gather in Athens to protest wage, pension cuts

By Lefteris Papadimas & Harry Papachristou

Greek police fired teargas to disperse anti-austerity protesters hurling stones and petrol bombs on the day of a general strike that brought much of the near-bankrupt country to a standstill.

It was the second time in three weeks that Greek workers had walked off the job, with Thursday's strike aimed at showing EU leaders meeting in Brussels that new wage and pension cuts will only worsen their plight after five years of recession.

More than 30,000 protesters gathered in central Athens as most business and public sector activity ground to a halt at the start of the 24-hour strike called by the country's two biggest labor unions, ADEDY and GSEE.

Tensions mounted when a small group of protesters began throwing pieces of marble, bottles and petrol bombs at police barricading part of the square in front of parliament, prompting riot police to fire several rounds of teargas to disperse them.

"Enough is enough. They've dug our graves, shoved us in and we are waiting for the priest to read the last words, said Konstantinos Balomenos, a 58-year-old worker at a water utility whose wage has been halved to 900 euros and who has two unemployed sons.

Some protesters were carrying Greek, Spanish and Portuguese flags and shouted: EU, IMF out.

Greece is stuck in its worst downturn since World War Two and must make at least 11.5 billion euros of cuts to satisfy the troika of the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF, and secure the next tranche of a 130-billion-euro bailout.

"Agreeing to catastrophic measures means driving society to despair and the consequences as well as the protests will then be indefinite, said Yannis Panagopoulos, head of the GSEE private sector union, one of two major unions that represent about 2 million people, or half of Greece's workforce.

European Union leaders will try to bridge their differences over plans for a banking union at a two-day summit which starts on Thursday. No substantial decisions are expected, reviving concerns about complacency in tackling the debt crisis which exploded three years ago in Greece.

The austerity policies being pursued in Europe's indebted Mediterranean countries at the behest of Germany and other rich euro zone members will drive the euro apart, protesters warned.

"This can't go on. We sure need measures but not as tough as the ones (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel is asking for, said Dimitris Mavronassos, a 40-year-old shipyard worker who has not been paid for six months.

The strike emptied streets and offices in Athens. Ships stayed in port, Athens public transport was disrupted and hospitals were working with emergency staff, while public offices, ministries, bakeries and other shops were shut.

Newspaper kiosk owners, lawyers, taxi drivers and air traffic controllers were among those protesting over the cuts, which include further drastic reductions in welfare and health spending.

Opinion polls show rising anger with the terms of the bailout keeping the economy afloat, and Greeks becoming increasingly pessimistic about their country's future.

"The new, painful package should not be passed, the ADEDY public sector union said in a statement.

"The new demands will only finish off what's left of our labor, pension and social rights."

But with Greece due to run out of money next month, Athens has little choice but to push through the austerity package being discussed with lenders.

Greece and inspectors from the troika say they have agreed on most issues. Athens is expected to secure aid needed to avoid bankruptcy given EU determination to avoid fresh market turmoil threatening bigger economies such as Spain and Italy. [Reuters]

ekathimerini.com , Thursday October 18, 2012 (15:14)  
Greek tax officers turn to small debtors for cash
As European officials hint at plan B, pressure grows on govt to compromise
FM warns against a lose-lose situation [Update]
PM tries to appease mayors, regional governors over cash bill
Construction material costs slide anew
The decline in oil rates has contributed to the further fall in construction material prices and the cost of building new residential properties, according to data released on Friday by the ...
Navios taps German shipping opportunities
The wide margin of difference between the health of Greek and German shipping is clearly illustrated by the deal for the sale of 14 oceangoing vessels by German bank HSH Nordbank AG debtor c...
Inside Business
WATER POLO
Olympiakos wins Euro crown in womens water polo
The womens water polo team of Olympiakos won its first ever LEN Euro League at the Final Four it hosted in Piraeus by beating holder Sabadell from Spain 10-9 in Saturdays final. After defe...
SOCCER
Rival soccer fan clashes leave man stabbed
One man was stabbed and several others slightly injured as rival Thessaloniki club fans clashed late on Friday at an event held by Aris supporters. Reports from Greeces second city stated t...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
Five years ago
This week marks five years since Greece officially entered a period of crisis when then Prime Minister George Papandreou announced that the country would seek a bailout from the eurozone and...
EDITORIAL
Slippery slope
The extremely divisive language that is currently being used by parliamentary deputies and coalition ministers is both unacceptable and dangerous. It is high time that the tired, old argumen...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. Olympiakos wins Euro crown in womens water polo
2. Greek tax officers turn to small debtors for cash
3. As European officials hint at plan B, pressure grows on govt to compromise
4. FM warns against a lose-lose situation [Update]
5. PM tries to appease mayors, regional governors over cash bill
6. Border checks aim to stop jihadists
more news
Today
This Week
1. Five years ago
2. PM tries to appease mayors, regional governors over cash bill
3. Poll: Large majority of Greeks want compromise with lenders
4. FM warns against a lose-lose situation [Update]
5. Greece not playing a game of chicken on debt
6. Slippery slope
Today
This Week
1. Greek government's popularity takes a hit as talks drag on
2. Europe's collision course with Greece
3. It's up to the Greek government to ensure deal with lenders, says ECB's Coeure
4. Leaving the past in the past
5. Denialism
6. The price of compromise
Find us ...
... on
Twitter
... on Facebook
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.