Greece ends seamen walkout but other strikes persist

Wed Feb 6, 2013 12:24pm EST
 
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By Deborah Kyvrikosaios and Yannis Behrakis

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek seamen on Wednesday ended a six-day strike that cut off dozens of islands and led to food shortages after the government ordered them back to work.

But other unions called for more action in a series of strikes by public transport workers and farmers which have underscored Greeks' anger at austerity measures.

Hundreds of people jostled for free vegetables handed out by farmers in a symbolic protest earlier on Wednesday, trampling one man and prompting an outcry over the growing desperation created by economic crisis.

Images of people struggling to seize bags of tomatoes and leeks thrown from a truck dominated television, triggering a bout of soul-searching over the new depths of poverty in the debt-laden country.

"These images make me angry. Angry for a proud people who have no food to eat, who can't afford to keep warm, who can't make ends meet," said Kostas Barkas, a lawmaker from the leftist Syriza party.

Other lawmakers from across the political spectrum decried the images "of people on the brink of despair" and the sense of "sadness for a proud people who have ended up like this".

People have seen their living standards crumble as the country faces its sixth year of recession that has driven unemployment to record highs.

Greece has been forced to push through painful wage and pension cuts demanded by its European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders as the price of bailout funds to avert bankruptcy.   Continued...

 
People reach out to take fruits and vegetables distributed for free by farmers during a protest against high production costs outside the Agriculture Ministry in Athens February 6, 2013. REUTERS/John Kolesidis