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Greeks brace for fresh pay cuts

The Greek government is submitting a bill to parliament suspending thousands of civil servants and cutting public sector salaries as it pushes ahead with harsher austerity measures.

Parliament will vote next week on the bill which aims to suspend 30,000 government workers at reduced pay by year's end and to cut salaries by an additional 2.8 billion euro (£2.42 billion).

The new cutbacks come on top of salary and pension cuts, as well as a string of tax rises over the past year and a half that have outraged ordinary Greeks trying to cope with a 16% unemployment rate.

A day after a nationwide civil servant strike shut down the government, about 50 finance ministry workers protested peacefully outside the General Accounting Office over the expected salary cuts.

On the island of Crete, hundreds of angry farmers took over the District Office to voice their frustration at shrinking salaries.

Greece is struggling to meet budget targets to qualify for the next instalment of a 110 billion euro (£95 billion) package of international bailout loans it has relied on since May 2010 to pay its bills.

Finance minister Evangelos Venizelos has said that Greece has enough money to pay pensions, salaries and bondholders through mid-November.

But the country needs the next batch of loans, worth eight billion (£6.92 billion), to avoid bankruptcy.

The Greek economy is expected to contract 5.5% this year and many in the markets expect the government to eventually default on its massive debt.

Meanwhile, Greece's deputy minister of environment, energy and climate change, Yiannis Maniatis, said the government has approved a search for hydrocarbon deposits in three areas in the north and south-west of the country with an estimated combined quantity of 250 million barrels.


From Belfast Telegraph