Greek transport workers, doctors strike over austerity

Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:07am EST
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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek trains and ferries ground to a halt and hospital staffing was cut to a minimum on Thursday as transport workers and doctors went on strike to protest austerity measures demanded by the country's foreign lenders.

Greece has seen a recent surge in demonstrations and strikes as public anger threatens to boil over in reaction to wage and spending cuts that are deepening hardship in a country suffering through its sixth consecutive year of recession.

Public transport in Athens was disrupted as bus, trolleybus and railway workers walked off the job while ships and ferries stayed docked at ports after seamen began a 48-hour strike.

Hundreds of doctors, medical staff, teachers and municipal workers rallied in central Athens to protest what they say are "dangerous" austerity measure that have drained the nation's health system of supplies and staff.

They later marched to parliament chanting "We will strike until we win!" and holding up banners reading "We'll kick the troika out," referring to the country's European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank lenders.

Greece's main public sector union ADEDY also called a work stoppage in solidarity with the striking health care workers.

"The belt-tightening is killing the people and destroying the national health system," said ADEDY's head Costas Tsikrikas.

In a separate protest, about 1,000 supporters of the Communist-affiliated PAME group gathered outside an Athens court to show solidarity with activists arrested for storming the labor ministry's office on Wednesday.

HARD LINE   Continued...