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More protest strikes rock Greece

Greece is being hit with more strikes and protests against new austerity measures needed to appease the country's rescue creditors.

Athens commuters suffered as metro, tram and suburban rail workers went on a 24-hour strike, while buses stopped for several hours in the middle of the day. Airline passengers also faced delays as controllers refused to work overtime. A 48-hour strike by all transport workers is expected later this week.

Greek police held their own protest, with the force's Special Guards hanging a giant black banner from the top of Lycabettus Hill in the capital reading "Pay day, day of mourning."

Faced with mounting anger from the country's international creditors, the government recently announced new austerity measures in an effort to secure the next instalment of bailout loans. Without the funds, Greece only has enough to see it through to mid-October, when it faces the prospect of a messy default.

In July, when it became clear that Athens needed more help, eurozone leaders agreed on a second bailout, although several aspects of that deal still need to be finalised.

The government's new measures include a new property tax to be paid through electricity bills to make it easier for the state to collect, as well as pension cuts and more tax hikes. Greeks have been outraged by the new steps, as they come on top of previous austerity measures which failed to sufficiently reduce the country's budget deficit.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in the capital's central Syntagma Square on Sunday night, scuffling briefly with police who pushed them back with truncheons and small amounts of tear gas.

Debt inspectors from the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank, known collectively as the troika, are expected to return to Athens this week to resume a review suspended earlier this month amid talk of delayed implementation of reforms. No specific date has been set for their return, however.


From Belfast Telegraph