24-hour strike paralyzes Greek capital

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A 24-hour general strike brought Athens to a standstill on Monday when thousands of workers protested against a draft bill calling for reforms and austerity measures.

The draft bill voted later in the day sought key measures for the country in order to receive further funds.

Thousands of people were stranded for 24 hours after public buses, trams, trains and the metro all came to a halt.

Flights were also cancelled when air traffic controllers participated in the strike; doctors, judges and teachers also took part.

The largest public sector union ADEDY demonstrated in the morning, with thousands gathering in central Athens.

Private sector union GSEE, joined forces along the way with the Greek Communist Party-affiliated union PAME, holding a rally outside the parliament as MPs debated the controversial bill.

“The government, following a storm of anti-labor measures that have crushed the whole of Greek society, now gives its last hit to working class, pensioners and the unemployed, with a bill that has as a pre-requisite the abolition of our right to strike,” the General Confederation of Greek Workers said in a press release.

"The right to strike is a sacred conquest of the working class. It is neither abolished nor threatened by this government.

“We want bodies and trade unions to be massively, militarily and continuously active against employers' authoritarianism and any violation of labor law," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said during the parliament debate over the multi-bill of reforms and austerity measures to be voted today.

PAME member Giorgos Kirakakopoulos, 49, said “the fight has just started, we won’t back down”.

Greece has been the recipient of three bailout deals since 2010. It has worked to avoid bankruptcy with the financial help of the International Monetary Fund, European Union, and the European Central Bank and borrowed what amounts to €260 billion ($306 billion).

The country recently reached a deal with its lenders on reforms that they must perform under its bailout program, in a hope to end the aid program by August.

In return for the money borrowed, the leftist government had to impose tax hikes, more structural reforms, as well as pension cuts that have angered austerity-hit Greeks, as well as a law to tighten the rules on calling for a strike.

http://eurasiadiary.com/en/news/economy/236083-24-hour-strike-paralyzes-greek-capital

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