Thousands of Greek workers are striking against tough bailout conditions this morning, hours after eurozone finance ministers said that Athens needs to make more cuts to convince them to release a financial bailout.
Some 17,000 people were gathering outside Parliament and were planning to separate into two protests, heading to Syntagma Square. They chanted and carried signs to protest the austerity measures, which include reducing the minimum wage by 22% and cutting one in five government jobs, in a country which is in its fifth year of recession.
The strike was called for by two unions, ADEDY and GSEE, which represent roughly half the country’s workforce.
The civil servants’ union ADEDY said in a statement:”The measures included in the new (EU/IMF) memorandum and which the three political leaders agreed with the government and the troika are the ‘tombstone’ of the Greek society. It’s time for the people to speak up.”
Eurozone finance ministers laid out the demands that Greece need to meet in order to get a 130bn euro (£110bn) bailout. They said the terms of a package of cuts and reforms agreed with the EU and the International Monetary Fund would have to be approved by the Greek parliament.
In addition, Athens was urged to find a further 325m euros in budget cuts by Wednesday, when Eurozone ministers meet again.
In protest of the tough conditions, a Greek Socialist lawmaker has resigned his seat today, following the country’s deputy labour ministry who stepped down from his position for the same reason.
Respected daily newspaper Kathimerini said in an editorial: “It is unacceptable that right now our politicians’ petty political and public relations maneuvering should be leading the country to bankruptcy. The country is tumbling towards a cliff-edge, and a tough European establishment is putting out the view that Greece cannot be saved and lacks credible politicians. Our politicians back that view with their carryings-on.”
In contrast to the work force protests, some Greek newspapers seemed to support the demands.
Financial daily Imerisia wrote in an editorial: “Greece’s credibility is zero. That is why the troika (of officials from the EU, IMF and European Central Bank) is asking for written assurances and the voting of the implementation laws,”
“Let us decide … if we want to continue being part of the euro zone or if we wish to walk down a dark path.”
A cabinet member meeting has been called for this afternoon.
Reports from: Reuters and Associated Press
Picture: 0neiros, Flickr