Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Greek protests over austerity cuts

About 250 people protested against pension cuts and health reforms in Athens (AP)

Hundreds of protesters have marched through central Athens, as unions demonstrated at deep austerity cuts meant to haul debt-ridden Greece out of its worst crisis in decades.

The protest was organised by umbrella groups representing public and private sector workers. There was also a three-hour work stoppage in the capital that disrupted public transport and state sector services.

Unions have said the measures are an unfair burden as the country faces recession and rising unemployment. But turnout at the march was very low compared to spring protests in which tens of thousands took part, and which were often marred by clashes between anarchist protesters and riot police.

Greece only avoided bankruptcy in May after its European partners and the International Monetary Fund approved a total of £95 billion in rescue loans over the next three years. In return, the Socialist government slashed pensions and salaries, hiked taxes and made it easier for the private sector to sack workers and cut wages.

Unions are planning a general nationwide strike on December 15.

Greek islands remained without ferry services for a third day due to a strike by seamen who are pressing for collective wage agreements with shipping companies.

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