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Greek Unions Call for General Strike September 26

Coalition government splits over austerity measures

Common Dreams staff

A woman chants slogans outside the Finance Ministry in Athens, on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Greece's largest labor unions called for a general strike on Thursday, responding to ongoing negotiations between the Greek government, its European partners and the International Monetary Fund, over drastic austerity measures. Negotiations reached a breaking point today as Greece's coalition government clashed internally over the depth of the cuts.

Protests broke out everyday this week after Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras announced a final proposal of austerity measures on Saturday. Since then, the 'Troika' -- the EU, IMF and the European Central Bank -- have pushed for even deeper cuts to the public budget with steps including large cuts to pension funds and public sector wages and mass lay-offs in the the public sector workforce, in exchange for a $39.6 billion bailout loan installment.

The left-of-center Pasok and Democratic Left parties refused the latest Troika demands today, clashing with Samaras in negotiations. The leaders vowed to prevent the government from cutting the 50,000 public sector jobs, as requested by the Troika.

On Thursday, 200 disabled people gathered outside the Finance Ministry, where Samaras was meeting with French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, to protest proposed benefit cuts.

"What we are saying is obvious: Blind and disabled people are not to blame for this crisis," Paraskevas Lambrou, a blind man from the central Greek city of Volos, told Associated Press at the demonstration.

"It is humiliating to be driven into poverty this way," he said.

The 24-hour general strike will begin on September 26.

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