Wednesday, March 10, 2010

As the Socialist (PASOK) government in Greece weaves between the demands of international finance and the resistance of its own people the Greek working class continues to up the ante. This Thursday a general strike in the public sector has been called. Here's the news briefly from the Associated Press.
Greek strike to shut down services Thursday
(AP) – 19 hours ago
ATHENS, Greece — Greek unions say nationwide strikes will shut down all public services, closing schools, customs and tax offices, halting public transport and grounding flights for 24 hours.

Greeks have been protesting the Socialist government's harsh austerity measures, designed to curb the country's massive debt and pull it out of an unprecedented financial crisis that has hammered the euro. The measures have cut civil servants' salaries, frozen pensions and increased taxes, including on fuel and general sales tax.

Workers are to walk off the job from midnight Wednesday night.

Journalists, teachers, state hospital doctors and air traffic controllers will be among those striking, while officers from the police, fire service and coast guard plan to join protest rallies.
The Strike has actually already begun, as the following from the other side of the world ie the Sydney Morning Herald reports. What is significant about the present protests is that sections such as the police are actually planning to join other workers in protesting the government's measures. Here's the story.
Greece hit by strike over austerity plan
Debt-plagued Greece faces a new wave of labour discontent against painful spending cuts, with a nationwide strike on Thursday closing hospitals and schools while stopping all flights and most public transport.

Workers walked off the job at midnight Wednesday, in the second major strike called by the country's two largest unions in a week. Demonstrations are planned in Athens and other major cities.

Under intense pressure from the European Union to quickly show fiscal improvement, the centre-left government has announced an additional 48 billion euros ($65.33 billion) in savings through public sector salary cuts, hiring and pension freezes and consumer tax hikes.

The cutbacks, added to a previous 11.2 billion euros ($15.24 billion) austerity plan, seek to reduce the country's budget deficit from 12.7 per cent of annual output to 8.7 per cent this year. The long-term target is to bring overspending below the EU ceiling of three per cent of GDP in 2012.

The government says the tough cuts were its only way to dig Greece out of a crisis that has hammered the common European currency and alarmed international markets - grossly inflating the loan-dependent country's borrowing costs.

But unions say ordinary Greeks are being called to pay a disproportionate price for past fiscal mismanagement.

"They are trying to make workers pay the price for this crisis," said Yiannis Panagopoulos, leader of Greece's largest union, the GSEE.

"These measures will not be effective and will throw the economy into deep freeze."

Journalists, teachers, state hospital doctors and air traffic controllers are among those striking, while officers from the police, fire service and coast guard plan to join protest rallies.
Most public transport in Athens will be idle, as will ferry and train services nationwide.

A general strike last Friday was marred by violence during a large protest march. Riot police used tear gas and baton charges against rock-throwing protesters, who smashed banks and storefronts, while left-wing protesters roughed up Panagopoulos as he was addressing a rally.

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