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Issue #1452      28 April 2010

Greek civil service stage strike

Nurses, doctors, teachers, tax officials and dockers last week staged a 24-hour strike against austerity measures imposed by the social democrat government to appease EU commissioners and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The action against public-sector wage cuts, increases in the retirement age and tax rises disrupted public services and shut down schools.

Emergency staff tended to patients at state hospitals.

Members of the class-oriented All-Workers Militant Front (PAME) alliance of trade unions maintained a blockade of Athens’s main port of Piraeus, disrupting ferry services for the second consecutive day.

But airports remained open after air traffic controllers agreed to suspend their participation in the strike so as not to pile more misery on travellers who had been grounded by Iceland’s volcanic ash cloud.

Thousands gathered in central Athens for protest marches, carrying banners reading “tax the rich” and “don’t take the bread from our table.”

Riot police unleashed tear gas after about 150 demonstrators challenged police lines near the city’s central Syntagma Square. PAME activist George Perros said: “This strike is a necessity due to the government’s fierce attack on our pensions, our employment rights and our income.

“We want measures that will protect the unemployed,” Mr Perros declared, vowing to step up resistance to the government’s attacks on working-class living standards.

Cabinet ministers began talks with top IMF and EU officials this week on an expected three-year €40-45 billion “rescue package” that unions warn will lead to even more cuts. Ilias Iliopoulos, secretary general of the half-a-million-strong public-sector ADEDY union, warned that more “bloodthirsty measures won’t help Greece pull out of the crisis.”

And civil servant Pavlina Parteniou emphasised that she and her colleagues “won’t tolerate any more austerity measures because we already can’t make ends meet.

“I have a mortgage, two children, I have cut down on every luxury,” Ms Parteniou said, adding: “Why don’t they catch those who stole the money?

“Is my salary or my mother’s pension of 300 euros going to save the country?”

One person in five lives below the poverty threshold in Greece, according to EU data, and this is set to increase.

The IMF predicted that unemployment would rise to 13 percent in 2011.

Morning Star 

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