Greek Strike Against 'Poverty and Wretchedness' of Austerity

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Common Dreams

Greek Strike Against 'Poverty and Wretchedness' of Austerity

As the conservative government pushes through more devastating austerity cuts in exchange for 'bailout loans,' Greece's largest unions launch a nation-wide work stoppage

by
Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Tens of thousands of Greek workers walked out on the job Tuesday in a nation-wide general strike against another wave of sweeping austerity measures that is sending tremors across a country already in the grips of an unemployment and poverty crisis.

The two largest Greek unions—representing 2.5 million workers—are throwing their muscle behind the strike that is bringing the country to a halt, grounding airplanes and stopping trains in their tracks.

Large protests are planned for Tuesday in major towns and cities across Greece, in the fourth general strike Greece has seen in 2013.

The Greek parliament is set to vote Wednesday on a new austerity bill that would further gut the Greek civil service and unleash mass firings and wage cuts affecting tens of thousands of public workers.

“We will resist all those whose wrongheaded and dead-end choices have led the Greek people into poverty and wretchedness,” the main private sector labor union, Gsee, told the New York Times.

This latest austerity bill follows in the wake of the last month's shutdown of public broadcaster ERT that set off mass strikes and a severe political crisis for the conservative-led government.

The European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund—known as Greece's 'troika' of lenders—is giving hundreds of billions of dollars in 'bailout loans' to Greece, on the condition that it impose drastic austerity measures that roll back public safety nets, plummet wages, and push through privatization measures. The loans are being given in a series of installments to ensure that Greece follows through on these cuts.

Greece will be 'rewarded' with a $10 billion installment if the parliament passes the austerity measures Wednesday.

This is despite the IMF's own admission in a June report that austerity measures in Greece have been destructive and misguided.

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