Greek private sector union stages 24-hour strike


Greece's largest private sector union GSEE is staging a 24-hour strike against planned pension cuts and to demand the reversal of labor reforms implemented under the country's third bailout which expired in August.

GSEE’s demands include pension increases, tax cuts and restoring the minimum salary to the pre-bailout level of 751 euros ($853), from the current 580 euros ($659).

All these had been promised by the governing SYRIZA party before its first electoral victory in January 2015. However, its negotiating strategy quickly brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy and exit from the group of European countries that use the euro currency. As a result, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was obliged to impose new tax hikes and spending cuts to secure another bailout deal.

All train and island ferry services have been cancelled on Wednesday due to the strike, while most Athens public transport – including airport rail connections – will be out of action.

Two separate protest rallies will be held in the city center in the morning, with police bracing for possible violence.

While union members are generally orderly during such protests, far-left and anarchist demonstrators frequently hijack the demonstrations, taking advantage of the cover provided by the crowds to vandalize property and attack police with petrol bombs and stones.

Greek journalists walked off work for 24 hours Tuesday. Their strike was held a day in advance to allow media coverage of the main strike. Newspapers were not printed on Wednesday.

[Combined reports]