Greek unions have again staged strikes and demonstrations to protest the government’s austerity measures, including changes in labor laws and widespread cuts in wages.
The strike has either severely reduced or eliminated activities at many airports, schools, state hospitals, coastal shipping, government offices, banks, courts, health services, taxis and railways, reported the Athens News Agency (ANA).
Some protesters have clashed with police. Former minister Kostis Hatzidakis was physically assaulted by protesters in central Athens.
According to ANA, Greece’s two largest unions, the GSEE and ADEDY, which represent both the public and private sector workers, have organized the protests.
ADEDY said its principal demand for the government to rescind the socially unjust government-imposed measures leading workers and pensioners to poverty and misery.
We have seen universal participation in the strike and we are pleased with the good turnout, said Stathis Anestis, spokesperson for GSEE. We will continue our protests with the intention of overturning these measures.
Also, the militant left-wing PAME union went on strike and warned no sacrifice for the plutocracy and declared that the economic problems facing the Greece were not created by greedy capitalists.
The government of Prime Minister George Papandreou have imposed the new fiscal program to satisfy terms of the massive, three-year 110-billion euro bailout it received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) in May to save the country from financial default.
On Tuesday, the Greek Parliament passed a measure which will curtail the power collective labor agreements, enabling employers to fire workers more easily. Salaries of public workers were also capped.
The public sector is the focus of much of the structural reforms - it is estimated that one-fifth of Greece’s workforce is employed in this area.
In the private sector, Greek employers will no longer be subject to union-negotiated agreements and can establish their own wages.
We strike because the EU, the IMF, the government lead us to poverty, unemployment; they continuously load us with new burdens, PAME said. They abolish the collective agreements; they further reduce our salaries and day-wages.
Parliament will vote on the 2011 budget – which seeks to reduce the budget deficit from 9.4 percent of GDP to 7.4 percent -- on December 22