Tens of thousands of Greeks protest over cuts to public service
Political opposition backs workers in denouncing plans for 25,000 layoffs
An anti-austerity protester holds a Greek flag during a rally in Athens yesterday. Photograph: John Kolesidis/Reuters
Tens of thousands of Greeks yesterday joined the country’s fourth general strike this year, bringing the country to a standstill in protest at plans to cut 25,000 public sector jobs.
In one of the biggest anti-austerity outbursts since prime minister Antonis Samaras took power 13 months ago, demonstrators poured into Syntagma Square at the centre of Athens to oppose the cuts, which parliament is to vote on today.
“We are people, not numbers,” many chanted against a backdrop of screeching whistles and beating drums. “Fire the troika,” they screamed, referring to the triumvirate of creditors at the EU, ECB and IMF keeping bankrupt Athens afloat. The lenders have warned that unless the job cuts are voted through they will halt aid payments.
The political opposition backed public service workers in denouncing the layoffs, saying they would only exacerbate the plight of a nation ravaged by record levels of unemployment, recession and debt. At nearly 27 per cent, Greece has the highest unemployment rate in the euro zone.
“The policy of mass firings, the dismantling of public institutions and the demolition of any notion of labour rights initiate a new, undemocratic governance of the country,” railed Adedy, the public sector union which organised the strike along with GSEE, representing private sector employees. – (Guardian service)