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Fresh wave of strikes brings Greece to a halt

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Fresh wave of strikes brings Greece to a halt
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Anger has spilled onto the streets of Greece, with public and private sector workers staging a third general strike over tough austerity plans.

The government has said it is sympathetic to appeals over its tax rises and wage cuts, but is unwilling to back down as it seeks to get a grip on the country’s crippling deficit.

The fresh national walkout has seen public transport grind to a halt. Ports have been paralysed and trains and planes are all going nowhere.

The 24-hour strike called by the two largest unions has also left schools shut and hospitals relying on emergency staff.

The action began last month following a raft of government announcements, including an unpopular hike in VAT. Many believe blame for the strict measures lies outside Greece.

Stathis Anestis from the Executive Committee of the Greek Confederation of Labour said: “The EU has imposed measures on our country that are socially unjust and they badly hit workers and their rights. Our slogan and our reaction to these measures is: people and their needs are more important than markets.”

The protests will be watched closely from outside Greece with EU policymakers hoping to see the country’s belt-tightening implemented quickly and smoothly. For that to happen, however, public support will be required.