Greek labor unions step up protests against austerity measures nationwide

08:52, March 05, 2010      

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A protestor holds banner outside the building of Greek Finance Ministry in Athens, capital of Greece, March 4, 2010. A group of labor union members protest against the new round of austerity measures announced by the government outside Greek Finance Ministry on Wednesday. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

The building of the Greek Finance Ministry opposite parliament was occupied on Thursday morning by a group of labor union members in a first symbolic protest against the new round of austerity measures announced by the government on Wednesday.

The protesters, who belong to the PAME union, which is close to the Greek Communist Party, hung a huge banner on the building's facade calling Greeks to "rise up" against the new measures.

Singing songs popular to Greeks from the years of military dictatorship in the country in the 1970s, dozens of protesters blocked the entrance to the Finance Ministry for a second time in a month and urged the public to join a demonstration to take place on the same central Athens Syntagma square later on Thursday afternoon.

"We are here and we will stay here as long as it takes in the coming days and weeks, because we simply cannot afford the cost of further sacrifices. There are other ways to solve Greece's problems," a 43-year- old electrician Giannis told Xinhua.

In the meantime, PAME organized similar protests in state buildings and rallies in 62 cities across Greece on Thursday.

A second protest organized by the left coalition SYRIZA will be launched in front of the First University building in downtown Athens on Thursday afternoon.

The occupation of state buildings is turning into a more and more popular form of protest in Greece. On Thursday morning, another group of workers laid off when national air carrier Olympic Airways was privatised last autumn, occupied the building of the General Accounting Bureau nearby, closing main streets and causing a traffic jam. They asked the government to provide aid to 4,000 employees who lost their jobs last December.

On Friday, the two umbrella unions of public and private sector employees, ADEDY and GSEE, called for a joint nationwide strike after the announcement of the additional austerity measures. It will be the second of its kind in a month and more are expected, starting next week, if the government does not reconsider the measures, say union representatives.

ADEDY had planned a 24-hour strike on March 16. However, following Wednesday's developments, the trade union is considering bringing it forward to next week.

Source: Xinhua
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