Greek civil servants stage 24-hour strike over austerity measures

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 10:46 EDT
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Protesters march towards the parliament in Athens on December 19, 2012 as public services are hit by a 24-hour strike called by unions. (AFP)
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Hundreds of civil servants protested in Athens against new austerity measures as part of a a 24-hour strike called Wednesday by unions that paralysed public services and disrupted transport.

Wednesday’s action grounded flights for six hours, left trains operating on emergency schedules and halted the Athens metro during morning rush hour.

Government services such tax and social security offices as well as hospitals and schools were also affected.

Unions say the successive waves of austerity measures imposed by the government have brought many Greeks to the brink of penury, a point underscored by some protesters on Wednesday.

In a message to Greece’s creditors, a group of protesters held up two rows of underpants on a clothes line that spelled out “You can take these too.”

“Working Greeks demonstrated against the politics of austerity, unemployment and the sellout of public property,” the GSEE, the main union confederation for the private sector, said in a statement.

The stoppage was called by the main civil service union Adedy in protest at what it said was the “destruction” of public services by three years of government cuts.

In return for EU-IMF bailout loans, Greece recently pledged another 18 billion euros ($23.7 billion) in spending cuts by 2016 on top of prior salary and pension cuts effected in the last two years.

The country has promised to raise 8.5 billion euros from the sale of state assets over the same period.

Lawmakers are currently debating in parliament a new tax system that critics say will reduce benefits for thousands of middle-class families with children.

The latest cuts are tied to the release of 34.3 billion euros in scheduled European bailout aid in December, and another 14.8 billion euros in the first quarter of next year.

They will also determine whether the International Monetary Fund will release an additional 3.4 billion euros by springtime.

Greece has been hit by a series of general strikes in protest at government cuts demanded by international creditors in return for aid to keep the debt-laden country afloat.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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