New general strike to paralyze country

Flights will be grounded and public services and transport halted today as thousands of workers join yet another 24-hour general strike, the sixth this year, called by the country’s two main unions to coincide with a parliamentary vote on deeply unpopular pension and labor relations reforms. All flights into and out of Greece will be grounded between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. as air-traffic controllers join the protest against the reforms and demand the payment of outstanding wages. There will be no trains running, as employees of the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) and the suburban railway (Proastiakos) also intend to walk off the job. In Athens, the only form of public transport will be taxis, as workers on the metro, buses, trolley buses, tram and Piraeus-Kifissia urban electric railway (ISAP) join the action. Those planning to travel to Aegean destinations will have problems too, as seamen belonging to unions affiliated with the Communist Party (KKE) have threatened to block access to ferries at the main port of Piraeus for 24 hours. Motorists will be barred from much of the city center, as two protest rallies are planned: One organized by the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) and the civil servants’ union ADEDY is to start at 10 a.m. in Klafthmonos Square and the other, organized by the Communist Party-affiliated labor union PAME, will start at 11 a.m. in Omonia Square. Demonstrators will then march on Parliament, where a vote on the reforms is expected in the afternoon. Administrative staff in Parliament have said they will strike too, though it remained unclear yesterday whether their walkout would derail today’s crucial vote. Today’s strike will also shut down schools, leave hospitals operating with emergency staff and lead to a media blackout as journalists join the walkout.

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