As the Greek parliament prepared to vote through more job cuts for teachers, municipal police and other local government posts, it was revealed that the unemployment rate there has risen to a record high.
After six years of recession the number of people out of work reached its highest since records began in 2006 at 26.9 percent of the active population. That is twice the average in the eurozone.
The jobless rate for under 25s fell slightly but remains at 57.5 percent, the highest figure in the eurozone.
The statistics service ELSTAT said about 700 to 1,000 people are being laid off every day.
The number of Greeks without a job has tripled since late 2009. That is when the country was plunged into a debt crisis that forced it to seek help from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
A man who has been two years without work said: “Things are really terrible, we’re close to revolution. There’s hunger everywhere, not just me, everyone, people looking through rubbish bins to find something to eat. What kind of a country is this?”
Dimitris Mardas, an economics professor at Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University, agrees. “We could see a social explosion in the fall – no one can precisely predict what society’s tolerance limit is,” he said.
As the latest grim figures were released Greek municipal workers were out on the streets of Athens for a fourth day running protesting against plans to slash public sector jobs.
To get billions from the EU and IMF and avoid bankruptcy Athens is having to reduce its 600,000-strong public workforce, which is widely seen as corrupt and inefficient.