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Europe

Greek civil servants strike to protest against austerity measures

Greece's public sector shut down on Thursday as state employees began a 24-hour strike to protest against the government's austerity package. Unions are demanding that the measures be abandoned.

Protesters take part in a rally in central Athens

Strikes have been common in Greece throughout 2010

Greek municipalities, schools, and public offices were closed, while state-run hospitals were functioning only on emergency staff, as civil servants began a 24-hour strike on Thursday to put pressure on the government to give up its harsh austerity measures.

Flights to and from Greece were to be disrupted later in the day as air traffic controllers are set to join the work stoppage from 3-7 pm local time. No aircraft will be able to land or take off during the period, which will result in the cancellation of at least 40 domestic and international flights.

The main civil servants' union, ADEDY, has announced it will stage a demonstration in Athens later in the day, while a communist party-backed union plans a separate march in the capital.

Incomes slashed

ADEDY organized the strike action to protest against the government's austerity package, which proposes cuts to public workers' salaries and pensions, and an increase in consumer taxes.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou

Papandreou has appealed to Greeks accept the cuts

The union says that civil servants and public officials lost over one fourth of their income in cuts introduced in the last month.

The cuts are a condition of the110-billion-euro loan ($154 billion) the Greek government received from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which saved Prime Minister George Papandreou's Socialist government from defaulting on its budget in May.

Officials from the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the IMF have been continually monitoring the fiscal progress. On Monday, Athens said it would cut next year's budget deficit to seven percent of GDP from a staggering 13.6 in 2009. The European Union's official limit is three percent.

The European Commission said on Wednesday that Greece's already huge debt and deficit figures are set to be revised upwards later this month.

Author: Gabriel Borrud
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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