Thursday April 24, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
21o C
15o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Thousands rally in anti-austerity strike; scuffles break out [Update]

Members of a Greek Communist trade union demonstrate on Wednesday in the center of Athens against austerity measures.

Tens of thousands of Greeks took to the streets of Athens on Wednesday during a nationwide strike against wage cuts and high taxes that kept ferries stuck in ports, schools shut and hospitals with only emergency staff. Minor scuffles broke with police firing tear gas to disperse hooded youths throwing rocks and firebombs in the central neighborhood of Exarchia. In the city of Iraklio on the island of Crete, demonstrators overturned a squad car.

Beating drums and chanting "Robbers, robbers!" more than 60,000 people marched to Parliament in the Greek capital in the biggest anti-austerity protest so far this year.

The two biggest labor unions brought much of crisis-hit Greece to a standstill during the 24-hour protest against policies which they say deepen the hardship of people struggling through the country's worst peacetime downturn.

Representing 2.5 million workers, the unions have gone on strike repeatedly since a debt crisis erupted in late 2009, testing the government's will to impose the painful conditions of an international bailout in the face of growing public anger.

"Today's strike is a new effort to get rid of the bailout deal and those who take advantage of the people and bring only misery," said Ilias Iliopoulos, secretary general of the ADEDY public sector union which organized the walkout with private sector union GSEE.

"A social explosion is very near," he told Reuters from a rally in a central Athens square, as police helicopters clattered overhead.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's eight-month-old coalition government has been eager to show it will implement reforms it promised the European Union and International Monetary Fund, which have bailed Athens out twice with over 200 billion euros.

It has taken a tough line on striking workers, invoking emergency laws twice this year to order seamen and subway workers back to their jobs after week-long walkouts that paralysed public transport in Athens and led to food shortages on islands.

Labour unrest has picked up in recent weeks. A visit by French President Francois Hollande in Athens on Tuesday went largely unreported as Greek journalists were on strike.

"Greece is making a huge effort to return to growth, to see better days, and when we're doing everything we can to attract investment, this image does nothing to help this effort," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told Greek radio.

In a sign it may be buckling under pressure, the government announced on Monday it would not fire almost 1,900 civil servants earmarked for possible dismissal, despite promising foreign lenders it would seek to cut the public payroll.

"The strike highlights the growing gap between the plight of ordinary Greeks and the demands of Greece's international creditors," said Martin Koehring, analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, forecasting more social unrest this year.

Greece secured bailout funds in December, ending months of uncertainty over the country's future in the euro zone, and analysts said this had created expectations among Greeks that things would improve for them personally.

"If these expectations are not satisfied by the summer, then whatever is left of the working class will respond with more protests," said Costas Panagopoulos, head of Alco pollsters.

Six years of recession and three of austerity have tripled the rate of unemployment to 27 percent. More than 60 percent of young workers are jobless.

Most business and public sector activity came to a halt with schoolteachers, train drivers and doctors among those joining the strike. Banks pulled down their shutters and ships stayed docked as seamen defied government orders to return to work.

"I'm on the brink of going hungry. My life is misery," said Eleni Nikolaou, 60, a civil servant who supports her unemployed brother on her reduced wage. "If this government had any dignity it would resign. I want them to leave, leave, leave." [Reuters]

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday February 20, 2013 (16:42)  
Greek judges decided to extend GD leaders detention
Greek doctors asked for clarifications over costly prescriptions
Police defend neo-Nazi MPs presence at Easter service for mostly force members
Suspect in students stabbing alleged to have threatened other pupils
Benchmark up thanks to late blue chip rally
A late rally by blue chips including Piraeus and National offset the losses that the Athens bourse benchmark had been showing up to about half an hour before the end of Thursday's trading, w...
PPC to sell 500 mln euros of 3- and 5-year bonds
Greece's state-controlled electricity firm PPC confirmed on Thursday it would sell bonds worth 500 million euros ($691 million). The notes will be a combination of three- and five-year bonds...
Inside Business
SOCCER
4,000 officers to police Greek Cup final
Police says it will ban mass gatherings in central Athens amid heavy security measures planned for Saturday's Greek Cup final between Panathinaikos and PAOK at the Olympic Stadium. More than...
BASKETBALL
Never underestimate the Greek hoopsters
Olympiakos and Panathinaikos, who between them have won the last three European crowns, won again at home on Wednesday to take their Euroleague play-off series with Real Madrid and CSKA Mosc...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
Putting the party above the country
The case of Sabiha Suleiman, the Roma activist whose candidacy for the European Parliament was announced by SYRIZA only to be withdrawn shortly afterward, is an illustration of the leftist o...
EDITORIAL
Strong card in debt talks
Achieving a primary surplus and having it confirmed by the European statistical agency, Eurostat, is a significant success for Greece. There is no doubt that it came at a heavy price for a l...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. Greek judges decided to extend GD leaders detention
2. Greek doctors asked for clarifications over costly prescriptions
3. Police defend neo-Nazi MPs presence at Easter service for mostly force members
4. Benchmark up thanks to late blue chip rally
5. 4,000 officers to police Greek Cup final
6. Suspect in students stabbing alleged to have threatened other pupils
more news
Today
This Week
1. Putting the party above the country
2. Three missing from cargo ship that went down off Crete
3. Strong card in debt talks
4. Central Athens cleanup a sign of Greece's turnaround
5. Samaras meeting with Dimon key to Greek return to bond markets
6. Police on high alert for Greek Cup final in Athens on Saturday
Today
This Week
1. Greece startup leaders say they cant break jobless cycle alone
2. Ground-breaking Good Friday mass signals thaw in Cyprus
3. Mayoral candidates clash over Athens mosque plans
4. Government looks to kick on
5. Greece offers to help find Turkish F-16 lost in 1996
6. EU struggles to unpick the knot of Russia-Ukraine gas logistics
Find us ...
... on
Twitter
... on Facebook
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.