A nationwide strike in Greece to protest against EU-backed austerity measures has brought the country to a standstill.
Flights are grounded, government offices are closed and schools are shut as civil servants and private sector workers stage a joint 24-hour walk-out.
The government is struggling to cut a massive fiscal deficit which has alarmed its European Union neighbours and angered the workforce.
Hotel worker Kostas Alexandridis is one of thousands of demonstrators holding a rally in the centre of Athens.
“These measures were going to be implemented by the government and the European Union anyway,” he said. “They are loading them on us now with the excuse of the crisis. The crisis has been created by the plutocrats and they should pay for it.”
The government’s economic rescue plan includes cuts to wage supplements for public sector workers, pay freezes, tax increases and raising the retirement age.
But analysts say opposition to the austerity measures appears to be largely symbolic as opinion polls show nearly 57 per cent of Greeks believe the measures are a step in the right direction and they want to give the government more time.
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