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Greek austerity plans spark mass May Day protest

Greek austerity plans spark mass May Day protest
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Angry Greeks have marched against planned austerity they say will hurt the poor.

Thousands gathered outside Greece’s parliament in Athens, only metres away from where EU and IMF officials have been hammering out a multi-billion euro rescue deal for the debt-riddled country.

The ‘Biggest Social Battle’ is how unions have described the effort to stop the measures and it did not take long for that battle to commence.

Clashes erupted when a small group of protesters tried to march on the Finance Ministry. Police were eventually able to drive them back, but not before feeling the protester’s wrath. Molotov cocktails were thrown at a line of police officers, setting one alight. Two TV trucks and scores of garbage cans also went up in smoke and a tense stand-off is reported in the Greek capital.

Prime Minister George Papandreou has warned the deal is a matter of national survival following a torrid week on the world’s financial markets, which raised serious questions over the single currency’s stability.

Shops, ships and other transport hubs were all shut because of a nationwide 24-hour walkout with unions describing the cutbacks as ‘the biggest attack on workers rights for centuries.’

The EU is demanding severe austerity in exchange for a massive 120 billion-euro bailout over the next 3 years.

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