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Greece at a standstill over austerity strike

Greece at a standstill over austerity strike
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Around 20,000 demonstrators have marched to the Greek parliament on a 24-hour all out strike to protest against the government’s economic austerity plan.

To counter the worst financial crisis in post-war Greek history the government is freezing public sector wages, raising taxes and putting up the age of retirement.

The protests were largely peaceful but riot police had to deal with a group of violent demonstrators on the margins of the main rally.

One demonstrator said: “For the workers, it’s murder. These measures must not pass because they’re aimed at the workers and the public and they must be stopped. We will stop them with our struggle.”

It was the first joint strike by public and private sector workers since the socialist government came to power last October and brought much of Greece to a standstill.

The turnout at the rally was watched carefully as a pointer to public opinion on the austerity measures.

And though police had to fire tear gas to disperse some protestors, opinion polls show most Greeks want to give the government time to allow the measures to work.

The strike coincided with a trip by EU officials visiting to see if Greece is on course to control its bloated double-digit budget deficit.