Anti-austerity strikers in Greece paralyze the country

Depite promises to the EU, IMF, and European Central Bank that they would stick with their austerity program, it appears the the Greek government is about to cave in to unions demanding that cuts in the public payroll be rescinded and other budget cutting measures be eased.

Reuters:

"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, which is organizing the walkout with its public sector sister union ADEDY.

"Our struggle will continue for as long as these policies are implemented," it said.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's eight-month-old coalition government has been eager to show it will implement reforms it promised the European Union and International Monetary Fund, which have bailed Athens out twice with over 200 billion euros.

It has taken a tough line on striking workers, invoking emergency law twice this year to order seamen and subway workers back to the job after week-long walkouts that paralyzed public transport in Athens and led to food shortages on islands.

But in a sign it is buckling under pressure, it announced on Monday it would not fire almost 1,900 civil servants earmarked for possible dismissal, despite promising foreign lenders it would seek to cut the public payroll.

Strikes have picked up in recent weeks, underscoring Greeks' anger at record high unemployment and poverty levels. A one-day visit by French President Francois Hollande in Athens on Tuesday went largely uncovered as Greek journalists were on strike.

In northern and central Greece, farmers have been protesting at high production costs and fuel prices for nearly a month, occasionally blocking the country's main north-south highway.

Most business and public sector activity is expected to come to a halt during Wednesday's strike, with school teachers, train and bus employees and bankers among various groups joining the walkout.

Hospitals will have only emergency staff and ships will stay in port as seaworkers plan to defy government orders to return to work.

This was inevitable and it is why many observers in Europe never believed that the Greek government would be able to make the reforms necessary to save their economy. It remains to be seen whether the next tranche of bail out money will be given to Greece if they refuse to abide by their agreement to get their deficit and debt under control.

Depite promises to the EU, IMF, and European Central Bank that they would stick with their austerity program, it appears the the Greek government is about to cave in to unions demanding that cuts in the public payroll be rescinded and other budget cutting measures be eased.

Reuters:

"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, which is organizing the walkout with its public sector sister union ADEDY.

"Our struggle will continue for as long as these policies are implemented," it said.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's eight-month-old coalition government has been eager to show it will implement reforms it promised the European Union and International Monetary Fund, which have bailed Athens out twice with over 200 billion euros.

It has taken a tough line on striking workers, invoking emergency law twice this year to order seamen and subway workers back to the job after week-long walkouts that paralyzed public transport in Athens and led to food shortages on islands.

But in a sign it is buckling under pressure, it announced on Monday it would not fire almost 1,900 civil servants earmarked for possible dismissal, despite promising foreign lenders it would seek to cut the public payroll.

Strikes have picked up in recent weeks, underscoring Greeks' anger at record high unemployment and poverty levels. A one-day visit by French President Francois Hollande in Athens on Tuesday went largely uncovered as Greek journalists were on strike.

In northern and central Greece, farmers have been protesting at high production costs and fuel prices for nearly a month, occasionally blocking the country's main north-south highway.

Most business and public sector activity is expected to come to a halt during Wednesday's strike, with school teachers, train and bus employees and bankers among various groups joining the walkout.

Hospitals will have only emergency staff and ships will stay in port as seaworkers plan to defy government orders to return to work.

This was inevitable and it is why many observers in Europe never believed that the Greek government would be able to make the reforms necessary to save their economy. It remains to be seen whether the next tranche of bail out money will be given to Greece if they refuse to abide by their agreement to get their deficit and debt under control.

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