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Greeks strike over new cuts plans

Austerity-weary Greeks have lashed out against more tax rises and pension cuts with a new round of strikes.

Public transport workers, taxi drivers, teachers and air traffic controllers have all walked out, causing widespread disruption.

The strikes come a day after the government announced yet another round of spending cuts, including plans to suspend 30,000 civil servants as it scrambles to keep international bailout payments flowing and soothe global market fears that Greece will default.

Without continued payments from a 110 billion euro programme of rescue loans from eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund, the heavily indebted eurozone member will run out of cash by mid-October.

Athens has lagged behind savings and revenue targets set in its bailout agreement, angering international debt inspectors who threatened to halt the loans - as the country heads for a fourth year of recession with rising unemployment.

The inspectors are due back in Athens next week to complete a review on whether Greece has done enough to be granted the next eight billion euro instalment of the bailout loans.

"The situation is extremely critical, I would say dangerous," finance minister Evangelos Venizelos told the country's president, Karolos Papoulias, during a meeting to brief him on the latest developments. "There is a sense of nervousness among the larger eurozone members ... that is affecting us."

Mr Venizelos, who heads to Washington on Friday to attend the annual IMF meeting and meet group head Christine Lagarde, said Greece is also being affected by problems in other eurozone countries.

"Unfortunately the eurozone at this moment falls short of the political and institutional level required" to deal with the crisis, he said.

But Mr Venizelos also stressed it is up to Greeks to pull themselves out of the crisis. "If we want to save the country ... we must keep our heads down and work," he said. "Because the miracle needed to save the country is in our hands. What is needed is work, work, work."


From Belfast Telegraph