Anti-austerity strike brings Greece to a halt during troika visit

Wed Nov 6, 2013 3:48am EST
 
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By Renee Maltezou

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek schools shut and flights were disrupted as workers held a general strike on Wednesday to protest austerity imposed by foreign lenders, whose inspectors were in Athens to review the country's performance under its bailout.

The 24-hour walkout by Greece's largest public and private sector unions brought much of the crisis-hit country to a standstill a day after officials from the "troika" of European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund resumed their latest bailout review.

"Workers, pensioners and the unemployed are going through an endless nightmare," port workers said in a statement.

"The government and the troika are destroying this country."

Labor unions fear Greece will have to impose further wage and pension cuts to meet its bailout targets in the coming years, union officials said. Greece and its lenders are at odds over the size of a projected budget hole next year, which has spurred speculation of a new round of unpopular cuts.

The unions are also protesting against planned public sector job cuts and privatizations.

School teachers, doctors, municipal workers, train workers and bus drivers are among the groups that joined the strike. Air traffic controllers said they would stop working between 1000 and 1300 GMT, disrupting flights.

Later in the day, thousands of people are expected to march to the central Syntagma square before parliament, where police and protesters have clashed in the past.   Continued...

 
A commuter stands in front of the closed entrance of a suburban railway station during a general 24 hour labour strike in Athens November 6, 2013. REUTERS/John Kolesidis