Athens traders count the cost of anti-austerity riots

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Athens traders count the cost of anti-austerity riots

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The rioters were a minority. The destruction they caused was the last thing hard-pressed shopkeepers in Athens need as more painful austerity measures loom.

Yes, Greeks are angry at parliament’s approval of fresh pay, pension and job cuts. But traders say the arson and looting that some use to express their rage could cost jobs and livelihoods.

“The situation is worse than ever for Greek businesses,” said shopkeeper George Monedas, looking at the wrecked remains of his business. “And now comes the vandalism, the burning, the smashing up. It gives you an idea of what to expect in the future.”

Trade unionist Antonis Antonakos says that industrial action will intensify after the passage of the austerity plan demanded by Greece’s foreign lenders.

“The politicians supposedly voted with their conscience but they have not convinced us,” said Antonakos, Vice President of ADEDY, Greece’s main civil servants’ union. “We will continue to fight as much as possible to change this policy, so that people can express their dissent.”

The package is the price Greece has had to pay for a 130 billion euro EU/IMF bailout to save it from default on its debts next month. As the latest turbulence on the streets shows, however, many believe that price is too high to pay.