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Thousands March in Athens During National Strike

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Greek civil servants walked off the job on a 24-hour strike Wednesday, paralyzing the public sector in a protest over ever-deeper austerity measures applied as the government struggles to avoid a catastrophic default.

Air traffic controllers joined the strike, grounding all flights to and from Greek airports. State hospitals were running on emergency staff, while lawyers, school teachers and tax officers also were out. Public transport workers were holding work stoppages in the morning and evening, and state television and radio pulled news programs off the air. Demonstrations are planned later in the day in central Athens.

Thousands of demonstrators marched through the Greek capital during a national strike.
Carrying black flags and yelling ant-government slogans, a total of 18,000 to 20,000 public and private sector workers plus pensioners and students in the march through central Athens, according to police figures.
Many of the protesters could also be seen carrying ‘Wanted’ signs, with Prime Minister George Papandreou’s face plastered on the front, claiming ‘For the sell-off of Greece and the embarassment and dignity of the people.’

“Unfortunately the new measures are just extending the unfair and barbaric policies which suck dry workers’ rights and revenues and push the economy deeper into recession and debt,” GSEE spokesman Stathis Anestis said.
“With this strike, the government, the EU and the IMF will be forced to reconsider these disastrous policies.”

Police fired tear gas at stone-throwing youths in central Athens.
A small number of youths broke up marble paving slabs and hurled the chunks of rock at police in full riot gear, who responded by firing tear gas grenades.
(source: AP, Reuters, DPA)

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