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Greece: Near total public transport shutdown as workers strike over wage cuts and tax hikes

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By Katy Dartford
Greek workers strike, seeking wage hike, tax cuts
Greek workers strike, seeking wage hike, tax cuts

A near-total public transport shutdown is underway in Greece and ships are stuck in ports as workers take part in a 24-hour strike.

The country's largest private-sector trade union is demanding salary and pension increases, as well as protesting against rising taxation levels.

The General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), which represents 83 trades unions and 2.5 million workers, is also demanding a stoppage to cuts in holiday allowances, measures to tackle unemployment, a ban on redundancies in any firms that receive public subsidies and a higher minimum wage.

The minimum wage was slashed under the terms of the country’s three international bailouts since 2010, which ended in August.

“Salaried employees are demanding a cancellation of the tax rises and an across-the-board (monthly) minimum wage of 751 euros,” the GSEE said in a statement. 

“Policies of a punishing austerity, poverty and impoverishment should end once and for all.”

The walkout follows a one-day strike by Greece’s main public-sector union earlier this month, which also demanded wage and pension increases, hiring and tax cuts.

Since its debt crisis began in 2009, Greece has received 260 billion euros in bailout loans.

In exchange, it laid off public-sector workers, raised taxes and cut pensions as part of an austerity drive.

“Today’s strike is aiming against another budget of austerity and over taxation”, said GSEE’s secretary general, Nikos Kioutsoukis.

“It is not restoring the collective bargaining regime.”

The GSEE have also held a protest rally in central Athens today.

Euronews correspondent, Fay Doulgkeri was there and describes the mood in Athens: