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Strikers gather in the Greek capital of Athens
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Varaklas

Greek strikes bring country to a standstill

October 2, 2019

Fresh public sector strikes in Greece caused havoc to transport links as well as the finance sector and media agencies on Wednesday. Strikers are protesting government plans to deregulate the labor market.


Public sector workers in Greece have staged a fresh strike in protest against the conservative government's planned legislation to deregulate the labor market.

The strike has immobilized transport links, banks and news agencies and caused widespread disruption. The strike will last for 24 hours from Wednesday.

Read more: Greek ferry sailors launch 24-hour strike, halting boats

Athens airport services and railways in and beyond the capital were severely affected. Ferries serving islands also stopped their service and the journalists' union announced a media shutdown for the duration of the strike. 

Strikers gather in front of an unmanned ferry in Greece
Strikers gather in front of an unmanned ferry in GreeceImage: AFP/L. Gouliamaki

'Hands off strikes'

A rally in Athens city center caused large traffic jams throughout the city. Protesters marched through the city chanting "Hands off strikes, hands off unions!" The rally was organized by GSEE, Greece's largest union, which represents around 2.5 million workers.

The strikers denounced "the suppression of collective conventions" and claim that the new government policy would make it more difficult to organize strikes.  

Strikers on the streets of Athens
Strikers on the streets of AthensImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Varaklas

"Once again, the few on strike inconvenienced the many," said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The conservative politician claims that the new regulations would encourage greater investment and allow economic growth beyond 2%.

The bill is also aimed to tackle unemployment, which currently sits at 17%, the highest of any Eurozone country.

The proposed law would also require a turnout of more than 50% at any future strike action for it to be valid. 

Strikers on the streets of Athens
Strikers on the streets of AthensImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Varaklas

After years of poor economic growth, there has been increased apathy over strike actions. Greece exited its third bailout program in 2018. Mitsotakis also aims to negotiate a lowering of fiscal targets with European lenders.

The controversial bill will be discussed in parliament later in the month. Mitsotakis replaced left-wing Alexis Tsipras as prime minister in July. 

Greece is on strike

ed/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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