Greek labor unions call for new general strike over austerity measures next week

10:03, July 02, 2010      

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Greek General Confederation of Employees declared on Thursday afternoon a new nationwide strike in Greece on July 8, when the Greek parliament is scheduled to ratify a social security and pension reform bill.

It will be the 7th general strike in the debt-ridden country this year, as labor unions and employees object to austerity measures and changes in the labor market imposed by the government due to an acute economic crisis.

On June 29 thousands of protesters held one more rally in front of the parliament denouncing cutbacks in wages and pensions, tax hikes and the planned increases to the minimum retirement age.

"We will not accept new policies that are unbearable to low income families. We will not stop the struggle until the government will withdraw the bill," said a statement released by the Confederation, shortly after an unscheduled meeting with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Thursday afternoon.

According to Greek media reports, the representatives of labor unions discussed with Papandreou and Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and Labor Minister Andreas Loverdos on the issues such as the preservation of the 13th and 14th salaries of private sector employees.

These Christmas, Easter and summer holiday bonuses that amount to two-month salaries of Greek employees have already been cut in the public sector, as the government implements a harsh austerity program to put the national economy on the right track in three years.

Under pressure by European Union and the International Monetary Fund, the Greek government has implemented harsh measures to cut salaries of public servants and increased taxes on gas and some other commodities.

"Hard decisions are necessary to eventually protect fundamental rights of Greeks. We are still committed to the targets set in our program," said Papandreou during a cabinet meeting on Thursday, referring to pledges the now ruling socialist PASOK party made before last year's general election on improving living standards in Greece.

"But the struggle today is to avoid bankruptcy," Papandreou added, stressing that the government now is focused on meeting the goals set to overcome the crisis and return to growth and prove to people that their sacrifices will lead to a better future.

Source: Xinhua


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