Greece hit by anti-austerity protests and strike | News | DW | 16.07.2013
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Greece hit by anti-austerity protests and strike

Thousands of Greeks have protested against fresh government austerity measures while the entire country was crippled by a general strike. The protests come ahead of a Wednesday parliamentary vote on a controversial law.

Several thousand protestors turned out in Greece on Tuesday to demonstrate against demands by the country's international creditors to slash the public sector before they approve new bailout loan installments.

Police said at least 16,000 demonstrators marched towards the parliament in the capital, Athens, and 7,000 took to the streets in the country's second city of Thessaloniki.

Outside the parliament in Athens, protesters chanted "No more sacrifices" and waved banners that read "Fire the troika" in reference to the trio of the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) that has been acting as debt inspectors.

This came as private and public sector unions staged a strike that affected city transport, garbage collection, domestic flights, bank services and hospital care. Journalists also joined the strike, walking off the job for four hours.

Crucial vote

The protests and strike came as a controversial new austerity law went before parliament for discussion ahead of a Wednesday vote.

Watch video 01:33

Greeks protest public sector job cuts

The law has been met with considerable public opposition, as it foresees the redeployment of thousands of civil servants, including municipal police. Civil servants have already been subjected to swingeing cuts in pay and pensions over the past three years.

If it is passed, thousands of civil servants, including teachers, school wardens and municipal police, will be placed in a so-called mobility reserve program that subjects them to involuntary transfers, and possible dismissals.

The new bill must be introduced if Greece is to receive the 6.8 billion euros (8.9 billion dollars) in fresh aid that eurozone finance ministers agreed to release at a meeting last week. It has already been approved at a first reading.

Greece has also promised to cut an additional 15,000 jobs by the end of next year in an attempt to reduce its budget.

The Greek economy is in its sixth year of recession, with unemployment standing at a record high of 27 percent. Youth unemployment has reached 64 percent.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is scheduled to visit Athens on Thursday to discuss the country's austerity course.

tj/hc (Reuters, dpa, afp, AP)

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