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Greece Set to Shut Down With Protests, Strikes

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Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ uneasy coalition government, poised to make another $14.6 billion in pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions on workers, the elderly and poor, faces its first test this week with a series of work shutdowns, including a massive general strike called for Sept. 26.

Protests, strikes and riots brought down the former government of former prime minister and then-PASOK Socialist leader George Papandreou, but Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, has enjoyed a summer delay with Greeks on holiday, as his administration worked on the new austerity measures demanded by international lenders.

There have already been strikes and other protests by doctors,  pharmacists, police, uniformed military officers, teachers, and university academics, but the general strike, called by the country’s two largest labor unions representing public and private workers is expected to draw scores of thousands of people in a volatile brew of workers, pensioners, anarchists, right-and-left wing extremist groups and students.

Public sector workers including tax and customs officers, social security fund workers, employees at municipalities, prefectures and public utilities, state-owned bank workers, merchants, lawyers and a number of private sector workers will be participating in the 24-hour strike called by GSEE and ADEDY.

Gas station owners also said that they will remain shut until 3 p.m., while a strike by air traffic controllers will mean interruptions to flights, especially during the midday hours. Downtown Athens and Thessaloniki are expected to experience serious traffic problems as strikers hold marches, although the Athens Metro will stay open so protesters can reach downtown venues, especially the main Syntagma Square across from Parliament.

Education and health services will also be affected as elementary, middle and high-school teachers walk off the job, along with university professors, as well as doctors and workers at hospitals, medical centers and the ambulance service. Trolley buses and blue buses will be running limited services from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Greek university and technical college professors scheduled a rally the late afternoon of Sept. 25, their unions said, in protest at plans to further reduce public sector spending. The three unions representing educators at tertiary institutions said they would form a symbolic barricade of the ministries of Finance and Development in Syntagma before marching to the main building of the University of Athens for artistic events in support of their demands.

The unions have drafted letters addressed to Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Development Minister Costis Hadjidakis, demanding a meeting to discuss their complaints, including that cutbacks to professors’ salaries and university and technical college budgets “are making the smooth operation of institutions of higher education and research problematic if not impossible.”

Their letter also says that, “We believe that you agree that overcoming one of the biggest crises in the country’s recent history requires – among others – the mobilization of all the economic, productive, scientific, social and intellectual forces of this country.”

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  • Salconstandinidis

    This goverment is going to fall it will not last the people can’t take anymore why won’t they realize this.

  • Fried

    Wait until the Greek government has to truly default and is cut off from ECB financing. Then the resulting capital flight and total economic collapse won’t be protested against because no one will have gas for cars, transportation won’t run, and there will be no shoes. Should be pretty calm once total colapse hits.

  • Complaints007

    Why doesn’t the Greek government reduce the company tax rate to 10% match
    Bulgaria and offer all these companies a reason to come back into Greece…set
    the minimum wage at $300 euros a month and get the economy moving again…It may
    seem unfair but that is what is required to get the Greek economy moving
    again…
    Greece’s neighbours are all offering these conditions to companies and until
    Greece starts to do the same nothing will change…Unemployment will stay at 25%
    and grow even further..

  • Anonymous

     Its funny how communist populists like you hope the Greek government will fail rather than encourage it to succeed. You clearly care more about your politics and ego than the people of Greece.

  • Anonymous

     What you say makes total sense.  Unfortunately both the troika and communists are trying to milk Greek businesses for as much as they can… and this is having a devastating effect on jobs and productivity.

    The only thing that can save Greece isn’t really the government, its our hard working business people and innovators. Too many are loafing around waving red plackards  shamelessly whining for handouts when they should instead by thinking about job skills and improving productivity.

  • The maverik

    Unfortunatelly, greedy, stupidity and selfishness drove the country to bankruptcy. Its sad to see Greece has reached this stage, the country will never regain its economy and its independence again untill the hidden power strugle disappear and justice takes over…

  • Nisiotis

    The government will fall because of these useless labor unions. They are not helping the situation and they’re not coming up with ideas to help either. They are making the situation worse by striking.

  • Anonymous

     Precisely. Communist and far left union populists are manipulating situation to ferment violent social unrest and push their extremist views. This is much like far right extremist groups like GD but a much bigger problem  (which rears its head everything our economy is disrupted by massive strikes and violent riots)

  • Salconstandinidis

    Wait tell Syria Iran Iraq hisbullaha built an alliance that will lead to world war 3 Hezbullaha MP said this the Shitte alliance vs Israel and the west