Municipalities to begin two-day strike on Wednesday

Municipal services across the country will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday as workers call a 48-hour strike in protest at budget cuts.

The Central Union of Greek Municipalities says that planned cuts of up to 30 percent in municipal budgets this year, coming on top of an average reduction of around 60 percent over the 2009-2012 period, will mean that local authorities will not be able to run social services such as day-care centers for children and the elderly, free medical clinics and food-assistance programs, and will also fall back on the maintenance of municipal sports venues and playgrounds, among others.

Municipal workers will begin their strike on Wednesday with a rally at 11 p.m. at Klafthmonos Square in downtown Athens, followed by a meeting with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras.

On Thursday, union representatives are expected to meet with Parliament’s public administration and finance committees.

Over the weekend, Interior Minister Evripidis Stylianidis suggested that Greek municipalities could be allowed to raise their own taxes and use their properties as collateral to gain funding from banks, thereby weaning the local authorities off public money.

In an interview with Sunday’s Kathimerini, Stylianidis insisted that mayors know ?the central government?s financial capabilities have been exhausted.?

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