Greek workers strike against public sector cuts

Athens must reform and shrink its civil service to receive more bailout funds from foreign lenders

Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 09:05

Trains ground to a halt and hospitals worked with emergency staff as Greek workers went on strike today in protest at government plans to fire thousands of public sector employees.

Athens must reform and shrink its civil service to receive more bailout funds from foreign lenders but the latest plan of job cuts has sparked uproar among Greeks struggling with an unemployment rate of nearly 27 per cent.

More than a week of marches by municipal workers are expected to culminate in a rally before parliament in the capital, with garbage collectors, bus drivers, bank employees and journalists among the groups joining the walkout.

“We are continuing our fight to put an end to policies that annihilate workers and drive the economy to an even greater recession,” said the private sector union GSEE, which called the strike with public sector union ADEDY.

“We will stand up to those who, with wrong and dead-end choices, have driven the Greek people to poverty and despair.”

Flights to and from Athens will be disrupted as civil aviation unions stage a four-hour work stoppage in solidarity. City transport was also affected with bus and trolley bus drives holding work stoppages in the morning and in the evening.

Trains stopped running and tax offices and municipal services remain shut. Representing about 2.5 million workers, the two unions have brought workers to the streets repeatedly since Greece slid into a debt crisis in late 2009.

The latest strike comes before a parliamentary vote tomorrow on reforms Athens agreed with its European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders as a condition for €6.8 billion in aid.

Among the measures included in the bill are job cuts for teachers, municipal police and local government posts.