Greece: General strike as government prepares austerity package


Journalists march during a demonstration as part of a 24-hour media blackout of print, broadcast and electronic media on November 5, 2012 in Athens, as a banner calling for a 48-hour general strike on November 6 and 7, 2012 is seen at left. Public transport and media workers opened a week of strikes in Greece on November 5, contesting fresh austerity measures needed for a lifeline from creditors which are due to be presented by the government to parliament.



Greece faced widespread anti-austerity strikes on Monday with taxi drivers, transportation workers and journalists walking off the job, as the government prepared to put forward a new austerity package to parliament.

The Associated Press noted that Greece is likely to face a week of turmoil, with a general strike planned for Tuesday and Wednesday, with all public services and transport shut down.

Parliament is expected to vote on Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' package of 13.5 billion euros ($17 billion) in cost cutting and tax hikes on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Passing the latest austerity measures and reforms and the 2013 budget is crucial to obtaining 31.5 billion euros in aid from the International Monetary Fund and European Union bailout, Reuters noted.

"These will be the last cuts in wages and pensions," Samaras said to the members of his center-right New Democracy party. "We promised to avert the country's exit from the euro and this is what we are doing. We have given absolute priority to this because if we do not achieve this everything else will be meaningless."

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The BBC noted that one of the parties in the governing coalition opposes the austerity measures, while international lenders say they must be passed in order for Greece to receive more bailout money.

The AP noted that the next loan installment of $40.3 billion is overdue, and Greece could go bankrupt without it in less than two weeks. That, in turn, would lead to Greece being forced out of the eurozone, leading to hyperinflation, bank runs and currency depreciation.

Meanwhile, the strike has already begun, with a media blackout starting on Monday as print, broadcast and electronic media journalists staged a 24-hour strike. Al Jazeera noted that the Athens metro was shut and 14,000 taxi drivers in the capital stopped their services. State hospital doctors were also on strike, leaving only emergency staff on hand.

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