General strike held in Greece against bailout austerity

17 May 17

Greek civil servants are joining workers across the country in a general strike today to protest against the latest austerity measures agreed under Greece’s bailout deal.


Nationwide, both public and private sector workers have walked off the job, with disruptions to government, business, public transport and airports.

Trade unions said they called the strike before a vote in the Greek parliament tomorrow, when lawmakers are expected to pass a raft of controversial cost-cutting measures agreed earlier this month between Athens and its EU creditors, with backing from the International Monetary Fund.

The deal ended six months of deadlock between the different parties, which are at odds over the best course for the Greek economy. This delayed the progress of Greece’s third €86bn bailout.

It will see Greece pursue savings worth another 2% of GDP, including pensions and tax cuts, that the country’s Civil Servants’ Confederation (ADEDY) said would push people further into poverty, make the economy stagnate and result in further “humiliation” for Greece.

The union said workers, young people, the unemployed, the self-employed and retired people would rally on Wednesday in cities throughout the country to protest against the “unprecedented attack” on workers’ rights and the public. It chastised the government for accepting the “neoliberal policies” with almost “religious reverence”.

The country’s left-wing Syrizia government, elected on an anti-austerity platform by a populace tired of suffering under years of harsh cuts, has found itself unable to reject the demands of Greece’s creditors as it initially promised.

It had initially resisted creditors’ latest calls for it to legislate for further measures to move the bailout forward. However, it later agreed on the condition that, if the economy continued to outperform targets, then the funds raised could be used to offset the impact of austerity.

But the damage from the long-running dispute had already been done, dragging the economy back into recession. Athens then cut its optimistic projections for 2017 growth by almost one percentage point.

If lawmakers pass the measures tomorrow, Greece will move closer to securing the next tranche of bailout funds, needed to avoid defaulting on debt repayments due in July.

However, Germany, Greece’s biggest EU creditor, indicated it that would not authorise the payment unless the IMF joined the bailout.

The fund in turn wants a more expansive debt relief deal for Greece before it will participate – a scenario that is becoming less likely because of the economy’s downturn.

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