Workers in Greece have started a 48-hour strike. Their anger is aimed at the government and its latest plans to fire thousands of public sector staff.
The troika of European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund lenders will be in the capital in a matter of days to check on the progress of promised reforms.
“We are being laid off. It’s very unfair because now with the crisis there are no jobs. We can’t find employment anywhere. We all have families that are depending on us. We have spouses who are unemployed, children, so we are here to protest,” said Christina Mavropoulou who works as a cleaning lady in a tax office.
The strike – the first after the summer period has hit transport links with no trains running for four hours. Schools have been shut across the country, hospitals working with reduced staff numbers.
Union officials have vowed not to back down in their attempts to put pressure on the coalition government. Across the country reaction to the walkout has been mixed.
“It is a good thing to have some kind of reaction so that reforms that are about to take place are milder,” opined one Athens resident while another disagreed. “I don’t think strikes have anything to offer anymore. I think that the unions are trying to show that they are doing something. Have you seen any strike succeeding in its goal?” he said.
Several marches are expected to end in Syntagma Square which has been the focal point of anti-austerity protests. Labour unions claim the planned layoffs will only worsen the plight of Greeks who are in their sixth year of recession.
The government says meeting the target of 15,000 mandatory job cuts between 2013 – 2014 will save taxpayers millions of euros. The troika has bailed out Greece to the tune of 240 billion euros.