With some economists now saying even the second aid package to Greece will not be enough to save the country, strikes have resumed against the government’s austerity policies.
Metro and overland rail staff are out for 24 hours in protest against mergers in Athens’ public transport. “This is not going to be an improvement, this will break up the transport sector and services, it will tear it apart,” said strike employee Michalis Kotsiras.
Standing outside the Transport Ministry, employees were also protesting against proposed transfers of staff to other transport sector areas to help reduce costs, sparking fears over job cuts.
Taxis were out in force during the strike to pick up passengers, while traffic police attempted to ease the congested streets as roads were deluged by commuters taking their cars to work.
Big anti-austerity rallies are planned for Saturday.
Greece’s Socialist government faces a tough autumn as it tries to implement unpopular reforms to secure more EU/IMF funds and convince disgruntled lawmakers and an angry public that the belt tightening will pay off.
The government is scrambling to reduce its budget deficit through a series of cost cutting measures, including, slashing wages, jobs, and benefits, and increasing taxes, in exchange for rescue loans from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
For more than a year the measures have provoked strikes and protests in Greece, but the streets were quiet over the summer months.