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Greek workers protest austerity measures aimed to win EU-IMF loans (PHOTOS)


Demonstrators clash with riot police in Athens on September 26, 2012.

Greece faced a nationwide general strike Wednesday to protest the latest round of spending cuts planned by the Greek government to unlock vital EU-IMF loans.

The 24-hour strike, called by the country's two giant umbrella unions — GSEE and ADEDY, the Guardian reported — grounded flights, disrupted local transport and shut stores, schools, museums, courts, and public service offices.

Police arrested dozens and fired tear-gas at demonstrators throwing petrol bombs, BBC reported.

Greek hospitals were operating on skeleton staff, the Wall Street Journal reported.

According to the BBC, the three-party coalition government led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, which took office in June, plans to cut more than 11.5 billion euros ($15 billion).

The cuts are a requirement of the bailout provided by the so-called troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help the country stave off bankruptcy.

However, amid record unemployment — and with a third of Greeks living below the poverty line — the latest round of cuts have come under heavy fire.

"The new measures are unbearable, unfair and only worsen the crisis. We are determined to fight until we win," Reuters quoted Costas Tsikrikas, head of the ADEDY public sector union, as saying.

"We call on all workers to join us in the march against the policies that the troika is imposing."

The strike follows similar action in Spain and Portugal, which are also facing tough austerity measures.

Samaras is also proposing pension cuts and an increase in the retirement age to 67.

More from GlobalPost: Greek unions announce strike against further austerity

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