Greek workers are holding their first major strike since a coalition government took office in June. The action, in protest at deep austerity measures, has been called by the country’s two biggest unions which represent more than half the work force.
Public transport including ferry services, shops, museums and monuments will remain out of action throughout the day. Hospitals will run on emergency staff and air traffic controllers will walk off the job for three hours.
There is large support for the action, however as workers explain the objective of the strike is unclear. “I’m not sure anything will change, but a clear message is being sent to those who must receive it,” said Greek waiter Dimitris Alexakis.
“I don’t think it’ll make a difference. I just hope we get out of this situation. That’s what we’re all hoping will happen,” added public servant Ilias Iliopoulos.
The Greek Government has agreed to make cuts of nearly €12 billion ordered by the European Union and International Monetary Fund in order to unlock the next aid package. This was agreed at the last “troika” meeting held in Athens earlier in September. These measures have been heavily criticised.
Despoina Spanou, an ADEDY civil servants union board member, said: “The government is pursuing the hardest package of changes for a society that has already been ransacked.”
Calls for an extension to the bailout plan have been fiercely rejected by mainly northern European countries with claims that more funding would be needed to get the debt down.