Greeks mark workers' day with 24-hour anti-austerity strike

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Greeks mark workers' day with 24-hour anti-austerity strike

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May Day is not technically a public holiday in Greece this year, but Athens and much of the country are at a standstill as another 24-hour strike disrupts public services.

There have been calls for large demonstrations against austerity measures. By mid-morning several marches were already underway in the Greek capital.

Many people blame the enforced belt-tightening for the record unemployment rate of 27 percent, including nearly 60 percent of young people.

“We’ve lost many things. They’re forcing us to emigrate. I’m thinking of learning German so I can take advantage of my teaching degree. I’ll have to go to Germany,” said an Athens taxi driver.

The shutdown at the port and the deserted stations in Athens resemble other scenes during some 20 previous general strikes. Groups of tourists are among those caught up in the latest stoppage.

“I’m very disappointed. I’ve travelled all the way from England. If I’d known, I’d have gone yesterday. Today’s my last day, and I’m flying back later on this evening. I’m disappointed, but I do realise that there are problems in Greece at the moment, and they’re suffering financially,” said holidaymaker Mark Borgen.

The industrial action and the protests have failed to stop the programme of cuts and tax rises. The government continues to argue that the measures are necessary to rescue Greece from the economic crisis.

International creditors have responded by approving a total of nearly nine billion euros of bailout money. A package worth nearly three billion euros was given the go-ahead this week, with another six billion due to come in mid-May.

Such optimism seemingly has not yet reached the streets.