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Strikes, Protests Build as Greece Negotiates Austerity

Greeks protest throughout the week as ‘Troika’ pushes cuts deeper

Common Dreams staff

Greek municipal workers protest near the Finance Ministry in Athens on Wednesday. (Photo: Agence France-Presse)

Public workers in Greece took to the streets again on Wednesday to protest ongoing talks between the Greek government and European leaders of the 'Troika', who are working to finalize the country's latest round of large scale austerity measures. 2,000 teachers, hospital doctors and municipal staff demonstrated in the streets of Athens against state salary cuts and job losses expected by October.

Reports on Wednesday suggested the government was under pressure from the 'Troika' -- the EU, IMF and the European Central Bank -- to additionally cut pensions, severance pay and revise working hours, beyond original plans proposed by the Greek government over the weekend, according to Agence France-Presse.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had announced a final proposal of austerity measures on Saturday containing deep cuts to the public budget, including large cuts to pension funds and public sector wages; however, the Troika now wants Greece to make even deeper cuts, including mass lay-offs in the the public sector workforce, officials say.

The negotiations have incited protests throughout the week.

On Saturday, thousands of Greeks took to the streets throughout the country, including some 3000 pensioners in Athens who marched through the city center to protest against social security cuts.

On Monday, university professors launched a two-day strike in the midst of the autumn exam period. Staff at technical universities will walk off the job all week. State nursery and primary school teachers went on strike on Wednesday, Associated Press reports.

On Tuesday, Greek unionists formed a human chain to block the entrance to the Labor Ministry causing a delay in talks between the government and Troika representatives.

On Wednesday, 2,000 state hospital doctors, school teachers and local authority employees went on strike and clogged the streets of Athens.

Hundreds of local authority workers marched to the Finance Ministry in central Athens beating drums and carrying banners that read "No to the financial collapse of local authorities" and "We will not pay for the crisis, we did not create it."

A final negotiation has not been made; however, Greece will not receive its most recent $39.6 billion loan installment from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund until austerity cuts are made deep enough for Troika approval. Greek leaders have been given until Friday to present the plan to euro-zone partners meeting in Cyprus.

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