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Thousands Hit Athens Streets Demanding End to Austerity
Strikes affect public transportation, other services
Agencies are reporting that thousands of Greeks have taken to the streets and have taken part in strikes in ongoing protests over the country's harsh austerity measures.
The Guardian reports on the timing of the strikes:
The industrial action -- the first of 2012 -- has been timed to coincide with the return of technical teams from the European Union, the IMF and the ECB.
The Associated Press reports huge numbers taking part in the protests:
Some 10,000 protesters took part in rallies in central Athens over potential pay cuts in the recession-battered private sector. Anti-austerity strikes in the capital disrupted public transport and other services. Journalist unions also launched a 48-hour strike.
"We demand that austerity policies are abandoned and that the legislation that crushes our labour and insurance rights and turns workers into slaves is abolished," the EKA labour union, which represents workers in Athens, said in a statement.
Al Jazeera reports that the austerity measures have coincided with high unemployment rates:
Greece has entered its fifth consecutive year of austerity-fuelled recession, with unemployment reaching a record high of 17.7 per cent.
Al Jazeera has more on the background with this video: