Public and private sector workers walked off the job Thursday in Greece’s second 24-hour general strike in a month against new austerity measures.
The strike disrupted services across the country, with ferries tied up in port, trains and the capital's suburban railway not running and Athens public transport disrupted. Several domestic flights were canceled, while state-run schools were shut and public hospitals functioned with emergency staff. Athens lawyers joined the strike, canceling trials.
Workers are protesting pension reforms demanded as part of Greece’s third international bailout, as well as other austerity measures included in the government's budget that parliament will be voting on late Saturday.
About 15,000 people marched through central Athens in three separate anti-austerity demonstrations. A group of about 30 youths broke off the end of one of the marches and threw several Molotov cocktails outside buildings along the demonstration route, causing only slight damage and no injuries. Riot police did not intervene, and the incident was over within minutes, police said.
The coalition government of left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, which won September elections after a tumultuous but brief eight-month first term in office, has faced increasing protests over the new spending cuts and tax hikes.
Tsipras and his radical left SYRIZA party, as well as their coalition partners, the nationalist Independent Greeks, had initially campaigned against Greeces bailouts and had vowed to repeal bailout commitments before they won a first term in office.
But Tsipras performed an about-face and signed up to his country's third rescue plan in July, saying he had no choice if Greece were to remain in Europe’s joint currency, the euro. The three-year plan comes with stringent conditions, including overhauling the country's moribund pension system, further reforming the labor sector and carrying out an ambitious privatization program.