Greece: Unions call 48-hour strike to protest latest austerity measures


Demonstrators clash with riot police on October 28, 2012 during a protest against austerity measures in the northern Greek city Thessaloniki during the annual celebrations of the National No Day, commemorating Greece's refusal to surrender to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's invading troops in 1940.


Sakis Mitrolidis

Greece’s two biggest unions representing civil servants and private sector workers today called a 48-hour strike next week to protest new austerity measures demanded by foreign creditors.

The move came after the government announced a package of spending cuts and tax hikes it plans to introduce over the next two years, as well as a draft budget for 2013, the Associated Press reported.

The strike is scheduled to start November 6, around the time when Greek politicians are expected to vote on the latest austerity measures, which need to be approved by parliament and international lenders in order to unlock the next installment of loans – this time EUR31 billion.

Previous general strikes in the debt-stricken country, which has been in recession for the past five years, have been accompanied by sometimes-violent street demonstrations, particularly in the capital Athens.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday warned that Greece could be plunged into “chaos” if the deal is not approved, the Agence France-Presse reported.

"If the deal does not pass... the country will be led to chaos,” Samaras warned.

The Eurogroup of finance ministers are due to meet on November 12 to decide whether to give Greece the next installment. Greece has said it will run out of money four days later.

But the BBC reported that getting the measures through parliament won’t be easy, with junior coalition partners and unions expressing their opposition.

"We will strike to stop the measures from being voted in parliament," Ilias Iliopoulos, general secretary of public sector union ADEDY said on Wednesday.

"We won't allow the government to hurt Greek people any more."

Greece has been locked in negotiations with the so-called troika of international lenders – the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – on the reforms needed to release more bailout funds.

According to CNN Money, Samaras on Tuesday claimed an agreement had been reached.

But the European Commission and the Eurogroup later denied any deal had been struck, the BBC said.