General Strike Halts Services Across Greece

Southeast Europe | November 27, 2014, Thursday // 10:47|  views

Greece’s Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis (L) talks with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (R) in Parliament before submitting the 2015 budget draft to Parliament, 21 November 2014. Photo EPA/BGNES

A 24-hour general strike has paralysed Greece in protest against further austerity measures demanded by the country’s international lenders.

International and domestic flights were cancelled on Thursday, public offices remained closed, and railway and ferry services were halted as Greece’s labour unions called the nationwide stoppage, the 32nd since 2010, to protest a pension reform and planned job cuts sought by the EU and the IMF in exchange for continued financial aid.

Public transport in Athens was disrupted, no newspapers were published, schools remained shut andstate hospitals only handled emergencies.

Greece’s Conservative-Socialist governing coalition led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has been imposing austerity measures including spending cuts and layoffs that have taken jobless rate to 25% and have sharply reduced incomes.

In October, the government won a confidence vote in parliament which Samaras called in an effort to rally support for his plan to abandon the much-detested EU/IMF bailout package 15 months early, despite the potential loss of about EUR 15 B in future aid.

Samaras, whose coalition government is supported by 155 of the 300 members of Greece’s Parliament, needs the support of at least 25 more to push through his nominee for next year’s presidential election. He has pinned his hopes of winning enough additional votes in Parliament on his plan for an early exit from the bailout.

The plan, however, hit a snag on Wednesday after Greek officials failed to reach an agreement with the IMF and the EU in talks in Paris on the final review of the country’s performance under the bailout programme.

The government submitted its 2015 budget draft to Parliament without the approval of Greece’s lenders, who are demanding additional spending cuts of up to EUR 3.5 B through additional belt-tightening measures thatSamaras wants to avoid ahead of February’s presidential vote.

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Tags: greece, nationwide, general, Strike, stoppage, bailout plan, IMF, EU, international lenders, Samaras, 2015 budget


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