A week of public sector strikes in Greece began with a bang on Monday morning as thousands of public school teachers, university professors, and other public sector employees walked off the job in protest of the latest set of austerity measures in the poverty stricken country.
"No to extended leave, redundancies and mandatory transfers," read a sign outside a high school in Athens. At the heart of the strikes this week is the Greek government's "redeployment plan," in which civil servants will be moved involuntarily into other jobs, face salary cuts, or lose employment altogether—a measure designed to shrink the state sector. More than 40,000 workers will be affected over the next two years.
In exchange for the next installment of EU-IMF so-called rescue loans, Greek leaders will "redeploy" 12,500 civil servants by the end of September.
Thousands of workers, including school guards, teachers and public hospital doctors marched through the streets of Athens to parliament, chanting "Let's kick the government, the EU and the IMF out!" Reuters reports.
Greek police fired teargas to disperse a group of school guards who tried to enter the country's reforms ministry in protest.
"We want our jobs back!," Eleni Stathaki, a 53-year-old former school guard, told Reuters. "They threw us out but want us to keep paying taxes. It's impossible to live like this."
According to Agence France-Press, Greece is expected to temporarily cut the salaries of 25,000 civil servants and completely wipe out 4,000 state jobs by the end of the year.
The strikes are expected to swell in the coming days and will include a general strike called by the public workers union, ADEDY, on Wednesday and Thursday.
Since 2009, the Greek government has cut the state workforce by 22 percent. Unemployment has hit nearly 28 percent and poverty levels have continued to climb steadily.