The economic winter of discontent sweeping much of Europe, has started to take effect in Greece . Thousands of metal workers and shipbuilders took to the streets in Athens as the impact of the global financial crisis hit home.More than five thousand shipping industry staff face unemployment out of a 7,000 strong workforce. President of the Pireaeus Metalworkers’ Union, Sotiris Poulikoyiannis said: “Nothing like this has ever happened before, there have been periods where there has not been a lot of work, but nothing like this, not in the last 30-40 years that this union has existed has something like this happened. This is a massive problem, and we have the unemployment figures to prove it.’‘ Jobless figures in Greece, currently around 7.8 per cent, are set to rise to at least eight per cent in 2009 according to the government, while the EU says nine per cent is a more realistic figure. The shipping industry is the second largest contributor to the Greek economy.