The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 07/16/2013 3:17 AM | Comments: 0
Last Modified: 07/16/2013 10:12 AM
ATHENS, Greece - Unions opposing austerity measures in Greece staged their fourth general strike this year on Tuesday, as the government prepared to start axing public sector jobs.
Several thousand protesters, most wearing caps to shield themselves from the midsummer heat, joined a march to parliament, as the 24-hour walkout disrupted flights, public transport, state hospitals and other services.
More demonstrations are planned later in the day, while local government offices remain closed for a second day.
Although the march ended peacefully, protest organizers directed angry rhetoric at the government and the "troika" of debt inspectors from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
"You politicians, kowtowing to the troika, have raped our souls, destroyed our lives," Nikolaos Kioutsoukis, general secretary of Greece's largest union, the GSEE, told gathered protesters.
"Do not test our patience any longer ... We are hungry, jobless and poor. We have nothing to fear and nothing to lose."
The public sector has so far been spared from the job cuts that have hit the rest of the Greek economy — and pushed unemployment up to 27 per cent — since the country got its first international bailout in 2010.
However, the government has been forced to launch the cuts — 15,000 firings by the end of 2014 and 12,500 transfers this year — so it can continue receiving rescue loans from the IMF and the other countries using the euro.
Parliament began a debate on the new measures before a vote expected late Wednesday.
"It's a disgrace for the government to say that things are getting better with unemployment at such a high level ... It is clear that with the economy still shrinking that we need a change of course," Efklidis Tsakalotos, a lawmaker from the left-wing main opposition party Syriza told parliament.
"The people running this country live in a different environment. They go to different hospitals. Their kids go to different schools. And they don't understand what people are going through."
Syriza lawmakers later stood on the steps of parliament and unfurled a banner that read "Fire the government, not workers in the public and private sector."
Formed after elections last summer, the conservative-led government lost a junior coalition partner last month following a sudden decision to shut down state broadcaster ERT.
"The general strike is unlikely to succeed in its aim of forcing the government to withdraw its latest reform bill or convincing enough MPs to vote against it," said Martin Koehring, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.
"(But it) once again demonstrates the strong anti-austerity sentiment among the population."
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Another killer comeback
Stanley Cup Playoffs game 2, Jets vs. Ducks, April 18, 2015
Jets vs. Ducks Series promo
Boudreau not one to abide hogwash
Crosby, Penguins get even with 4-3 win over Rangers
The heart of the matter
Mark Hamill said he was 'suspicious' of J.J. Abrams
Falcons edge IceCaps 4-3 in overtime
We're building a better experience
No winning ticket for Saturday's Lotto 6-49
Oilers win Connor McDavid draft lottery
Canadian actor Jonathan Crombie dies at 48
Ducks expecting a more physical game against the Jets tonight
Email: Affleck asked PBS to not reveal slave-owning ancestor
Ringo Starr, Green Day rock their way into Rock Hall
Candid Carlyle wants back in
Police investigating homicide in North End
Family searching for missing man
Jets this week - Game 2 with Tim and Gary
Saskatchewan premier says prayer will stay
Flooded with miscalculations
Blood starts boiling in Flames-Canucks series
Fire-paramedic review urged
Donaldson rallies Jays past Braves 6-5
Lift secrecy on RCMP harassment case, lawyer
Police looking for suspect in sex assault on Notre Dame
Raptors GM uses colourful language again
Who speaks for the middle class? Everyone
Provincial dairy production soars, driven by demand for locally made cheese and butter
Jets need a few breaks
Big bucks for seats at Selinger speech
Time to get tougher, Buff
Hot sunny Saturday ahead
Winnipeg author recounts the history of hockey's kooky collectibles
Talent search: Bombers looking for players in Florida
World Cup action just around corner
Irish comic heralds impotence (if it happens to come to that)
Going whole hog: Harley dealership owner has collection of 20 vintage bikes
The underdog won't back down
Rugby Wasps off to butt heads in Ireland