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South Eastern Europe

Greece grounded by third massive general strike

Author: Nick Iliev Date: Thu, Mar 11 2010 9 Comments, 3407 Views
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The third general strike is underway in Greece on March 11. Public services have shut down and air traffic controllers have sealed off national airspace.

Among the protesters against additional austerity measures designed to cut the national debt are judicial clerks, primary and secondary school teachers, industrial unions and local administration employees. Public transport workers on buses, trolleys, the Athens metro and suburban railways will also stage a walk-out  DEH workers (national grid) hospital and ambulance staff will only function at skeleton capacity and even police will stage a protest outside their main headquarters on Alexandras Avenue in Ambelokipi, Athens.

The two main airway carriers, Aegean and Olympic, are cancelling all scheduled flights on March 11 in addition to changing departure times on some flights before the start of the general strike.

The main demonstration will commence at 11am, in the Pedion tou Areos park, on Alexandras and Patission avenue, in the centre of Athens, Greek media reported.

Under pressure from the European Union, the government has approved a new package of tax increases and spending cuts to save about 4.8 billion euro and cut the budget deficit from the current 12.7 per cent to 8.4 per cent by the end of 2010.

The new measures, which cap an already severe austerity plan, include rises in sales taxes from 19 to 21 per cent, a cut in holiday bonuses paid to civil servants, a pensions freeze and increased taxes on luxury goods, fuel, cigarettes and alcohol.

Public sector employees are also enraged at the planned abolition of the so called 14th salary. Greek are paid 14 salaries for 12 months work, one at Christmas and one during the Easter holidays.

Widespread discontent is sparked by the feeling that salaries have been diminishing systematically, while the country's cost of living has risen relentlessly. They argue that the entire population is being stigmatised and punished for the greed and mistakes of an elite minority.

More than 70 per cent of Greek pensioners are on pensions of less than 600 euro a month, while the average wage in the country is about the same.

Greece's astronomical debt crisis has dominated headlines since the socialist Pasok government came to power and revealed the public deficit. It stands at 12.7 per cent of GDP, or four times the amount allowed for the eurozone, and nearly twice that announced by the previous conservative government, New Democracy.

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    • AnonymousAlexander King of ScopjeTue, Mar 16 2010

      This comment has been removed by the moderator because it contained

      AnonymousOtan telliossi o PolemosMon, Mar 15 2010

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      Anonymousotan teliossi i demoktratsiyaSat, Mar 13 2010

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      AnonymousFlights to Ercan Sat, Mar 13 2010

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    • Anonymous neutral
      #5 20, 05, Fri, Mar 12 2010

      14 months pay for 12 months work is traditional in Greece. 13 months pay for 12 months work is customary in Belgium and France.

      12 months pay for 12 months work is traditional in Germany.

      Need I say more ?

    • Anonymousotan teliossi i demokratsiyaFri, Mar 12 2010

      This comment has been removed by the moderator because it contained

    • Anonymous
      John K. Rating:
      neutral
      #3 20, 53, Thu, Mar 11 2010

      14 months pay for 12 months of work? Who dreamed that up? The Greeks are pulling down the Euro, which is boosting up he Dollar, and that is a good thing for American Expats and folks on vacation (which is NOT called a holiday, save that word for the Brits).

    • Anonymous
      blackantelope Rating:
      neutral
      #2 18, 45, Thu, Mar 11 2010

      this is but the first swallow of spring, a hot summer for Europe for sure.

    • Anonymous neutral
      #1 17, 16, Thu, Mar 11 2010

      Well, the strikers' complaint about a minority of very wealthy people creaming off all the benefits (and avoiding taxes) is well-grounded, but will come up against the inflexible opposition of the Greek wealthy classes (of whom former Prime Minister Karamanlis is a very good example.)

      The only solution here may be yet another Greek Civil War....

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