Home Greek news economy Anti-Austerity Protests Draw 60,000 in Athens

Anti-Austerity Protests Draw 60,000 in Athens

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Anti-Austerity Protests_GreeceEnraged by more coming pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions, an estimated 60,000 people converged on the center of Athens on Feb. 21 during a 24-hour general strike that shut down services.

Ferries stayed in port, schools closed, public services weren’t operating and hospitals were on skeleton staff. Scuffles broke with police firing tear gas to disperse hooded youths throwing rocks and firebombs in the central neighborhood of Exarchia. In the city of Iraklio on the island of Crete, demonstrators overturned a squad car, Reuters reported

Beating drums and chanting “Robbers, robbers!” demonstrators marched to Parliament in the biggest anti-austerity protest so far this year in an event organized by the country’s two biggest labor unions, representing 2.5 million public and private workers.

Austerity has worsened the country’s recession, now in its sixth year, creating a record 27 percent unemployment, some 67.1 percent for those under 25. All that is in the private sector as the government has not acted for three years to reduce a hugely bloated public workforce to meet demands by international lenders to let go 150,000 employees.

The pressure seemed to be getting to the uneasy coalition government led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, as he backed off his plans to lay off 1,900 public workers. The Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB)is putting up $325 billion in two bailouts to prop up the country’s economy but demanded harsh conditions in return.

“Today’s strike is a new effort to get rid of the bailout deal and those who take advantage of the people and bring only misery,” Ilias Iliopoulos, Secretary General of the ADEDY public sector union which organized the walkout with private sector union GSEE. “A social explosion is very near,” he told Reuters from a rally in a central Athens square, as police helicopters clattered overhead.

Samaras had been playing hardball with protesters, twice last month sending in riot police to break up strikes by Metro workers and seamen, but has backed off from being tough on protesting farmers who want big tax breaks.

“Greece is making a huge effort to return to growth, to see better days, and when we’re doing everything we can to attract investment, this image does nothing to help this effort,” government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told Greek radio.

“The strike highlights the growing gap between the plight of ordinary Greeks and the demands of Greece’s international creditors,” Martin Koehring, analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, forecasting more social unrest this year, said to Reuters.

Greece secured $69 billion in bailout funds in December, ending months of uncertainty over the country’s future in the Eurozone, and analysts said this had created expectations among Greeks that things would improve for them. Workers also fear the minimum wage, already slashed 22 percent to 580 euros ($773) a month before taxes, will be cut again.

“If these expectations are not satisfied by the summer, then whatever is left of the working class will respond with more protests,” said Costas Panagopoulos, head of Alco pollsters. “I’m on the brink of going hungry. My life is misery,” said Eleni Nikolaou, 60, a civil servant who supports her unemployed brother on her reduced wage. “If this government had any dignity it would resign. I want them to leave, leave, leave.”

“The (strike) is our answer to the dead-end policies that have squeezed the life out of workers, impoverished society and plunged the economy into recession and crisis,” said the private sector union GSEE “Our struggle will continue for as long as these policies are implemented,” the statement added.

“We are on our knees. The country has been destroyed, the young people have been destroyed,” Nikos Papageorgiou, 56, a civil servant, told Reuters. “I’m outraged with the Europeans and our politicians as well. They should all go to jail.”

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  • Alex Prime Minister of Greece

    And WORLDARTS… I never handle swap. I care about Greece. ..I am definitely not a Skopian.

    This is why I never criticize Skopians and constantly apologize for their apologists.

  • Striker333

    Yes it seems like that. And yet Greeks complain about the system and then immigrate to another country for opportunities. What the hell just allow them here!!!!

  • Mekima Kaityri

    ALEX, How could you a school boy in the US possibly know the feeling….?????
     keep out of this. It’s not your economy. You were outed yesterday, remember?

  • Alex Prime Minsiter of Greece

     The only feeling he knows and feels is the painful one he receives in his A*SS every morning from his daddy…

  • Alex Prime Minsiter of Greece

    Hey “Greek” patriot. What did you mean when you called the Skopians “Macedonians”?

    “guess his grand parents or family somewhere were done over by communists or Macedonians during the civil war or something.”

    http://greece.greekreporter.com/2013/02/18/greece-spends-95000-euros-per-student/

  • The PM’s Gay Skopian lover

     You turn me on when you talk gay.

  • Alex Prime Minsiter of Greece

     You have your father to thank for that!

  • The PM’s Skopian Daddy

    I love the daddy talk Can we have a threesome again with son?

  • Salconstandinidis

    We need armed struggle

  • Alex

     A self-proclaimed communist calling for violence against a democratically elected government. You belong in JAIL thug.

  • Alex

     Mr. Prime Minister, you should first be Greek before speaking for Greeks.

  • Alex

     Xeres oti melao ellinika boubouna. Ola psemata les yia na krepsis oti eisai Skopianos.

  • Guest

    This is arguably the crux of the issue, no matter how good/bad the intentions of any of the Greek politicians one thing is for certain they don’t have the global power, financial nous or political know how to fix the problem.
    If they did they certainty wouldn’t be in such a bad position now.

  • Arithehun

    Is there anyone on this site that is mature enough to have a discussion because as I read your posts the more I wonder what happened to the ancient Greek line that brought us Democracy, and free thought all I see hear is a bunch of self interested children is it any wonder Greece has became what it is personnally I dont give a sh*t about Skpians or Commie unions and even less about were Alex lives I know why dont we have a adult conversation about Greece if any of you are capable  
     

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OYG7TRHWU2AIDSI4M3B2PE2BHA Paul Johnston PhD

    The EU Commission is finished bullying Greece and it is over for the Euro Experiment here, but obviously Samaras and fat-boy Venizelos don’t get it yet as usual. The People have spoken and heads will soon roll for a new government against their harsh and cruel austerity farce!

  • Laser-punch

     You know, like in the past.You forget that.It hurt the nation.No sacrifice.No patriot.It is the deadwood.

  • Choralife

     Yes Arithehun, many of us are waiting to have an adult discussion on the topic at hand. Unfortunately every time we attempt to do so we are disrupted by the troll Alex, who uses every oportunity to divert the subject onto leftist, commie, skopian blah blah blah and to flood the discussion with nonsense. Alex is not well and lives in some crazy 1950s time warp. What you are seeing are people fed up with his tripe but unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any moderation around here. 

     

  • Arithehun

    At last some sanity, lets pretend that Alex and his ilk do not exist and I am interested logically opinion that does not involve what should have happened 30 years , commies , skopians, etc what is important is what is happening today and what can be done to make Greece a better place for all
    Alex I will not respond to anything you have to say

  • Mental Retard Kosta

    Yeh baby. Give e me piece of your Ancient Greek tralala

  • buddhistpress

    Buddham Saranam Gacchami
    Dhammam Saranam Gacchami
    Sangham Saranam Gacchami
    Dutiyam-pi Buddham Saranam Gacchami
    Dutiyam-pi Dhammam Saranam Gacchami
    Dutiyam-pi Sangham Saranam Gacchami
    Tatiyam-pi Buddham Saranam Gacchami
    Tatiyam-pi Dhammam Saranam Gacchami
    Tatityam-pi Sangham Saranam Gacchami

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OYG7TRHWU2AIDSI4M3B2PE2BHA Paul Johnston PhD

    THIS PHONY GOVERNMENT IS FINISHED! — THE GREEK PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN & WANT THEM OUT!

  • lowtar

    As usual, people’s rants in this post are all over the place. Cut the crap and go to work. 
    - stop corruption, 
    - stop nepotism and clientelism, 
    - pay taxes (especially the rich and self-employed), 
    - administer more efficiently (why do you need 3 times more public workers per capita than Scandinavians?), 
    - develop at least some industries (like solar).

    Why should people from outside Greece ever have any respect (or pity) if you continue to behave more like Zimbabwe than Sweden? 

    And if you don’t like Europe:Leave it! Go your own way! (but that would mean becoming financially independent – very unlikely. Instead you continue taking other peoples money – yet still complain)

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OYG7TRHWU2AIDSI4M3B2PE2BHA Paul Johnston PhD

     PLEASE READ:

    “Greece’s Economic Crisis Reveals Fault Lines In The Media”

    Reuters – By Sylvia
    Poggioli

    February 18,
    2013 2:58 PM

    Three years of spiraling economic crisis in Greece have devastated every
    sector of the economy. The Greek media are among the hardest hit. Many
    newspapers and TV outlets have closed or are on the verge, and some 4,000
    journalists have lost their jobs.

    Many people believe the country’s news media have failed to cover the crisis
    — and lost credibility along the way. And many Greek journalists acknowledge
    that a massive conflict of interest sooner or later had to explode.

    Nikos Xydakis, a columnist with the daily newspaper Kathimerini,
    says the big media conglomerates never bother to analyze what’s going on in
    society.

    “A big part of the media is controlled by construction moguls and oligarchs,”
    he says. “They reproduce the talk, talk, talk of politicians. This is not
    journalism, it is everyday propaganda.”

    Cozy Relationships

    Freelance journalist Nikolas Leontopoulos says Greek media owners are too
    close to political and financial centers of power. “They didn’t care so much to
    earn money out of their media businesses — they cared more about winning state
    contracts,” he says.

    This exchange of favors — news outlets that won’t criticize the government or
    the banks in return for public works contracts and loans.

  • Antonio Samaras the Great

    TO MY PEOPLE OF GREECE..  you better behaves before I makes you starve.  Why not tink of good things like history. Feed off that. And remember, blame those Skopians next door for wanting to be Macedonians.  It’s their fault that our country is in bad shape. Don’t blame me, blame the Skopiani’s

  • Kanelos’s #1 fan <3

    Where is Kanelos the protest dog?  I hope he hasn’t starved to death. He was the only thing that looked like that worked.