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Greek workers in two-day national strike

Hundreds of thousands of Greek workers have walked off the job in a two-day national strike to protest against government austerity measures. The mass walkout caused major disruption to public transportation.

Traffic in the capital, Athens, was paralyzed on Tuesday after bus and taxi drivers walked off the job. Subway trains, trams and commuter trains also remained in their depots.

Air travel was also disrupted after air traffic controllers held a three-hour strike. Ferry service to Greece's islands was also halted.

Many other public services ground to a halt, with many ministries, schools and courts remaining closed.

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Greeks protest against latest cuts

The country's two biggest trade unions, the GSEE and ADEY called the 48-hour work stoppage to protest against the latest package of austerity measures that the Greek parliament is scheduled to vote on this Wednesday.

Among the most contentious items in the austerity package are cuts to old-age pensions and the wages of public employees.

The unions have also organized a protest rally to be held in the center of Athens, where police in riot gear were out in force in an effort to deter demonstrators from turning violent. A number of previous anti-austerity demonstrations have ended in violent clashes between protesters and police.

The government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras desperately needs to get this latest package of austerity measures through parliament if it is to receive the latest 31.5-billion-euro ($40 billion) tranche of an international bailout.

Greece agreed to impose the tough budgetary reforms in return for the bailout, funded by the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Prime Minister Samaras has warned that without the latest tranche, Greece could become insolvent by the middle of this month.

The creditors are to make a decision on whether to release the funds at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on November 12.

pfd/hc (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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