New general strike hits Greece over austerity measures

08:34, June 16, 2011      

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A new 24-hour nationwide general strike hit Greece Wednesday in protest at further austerity measures planned by the Greek government to counter its acute debt crisis.

The public sector across Greece is expected to be paralyzed: hospitals will run with emergency personnel, mass transport services will be disrupted, and vessels will remain docked at ports. However, flights are not expected to be affected this time.

In a sign of the growing intensity of the protests, strikers are preparing for the first time to encircle a wide zone in the city centre, including the Presidential mansion, the Premier's office and the parliament to prevent MPs reaching the building for the first day of debate on the new package of measures.

The socialist government presented the four-year, mid-term fiscal policy plan this summer as a key to secure further funding from the European Union (EU) and International Monitary Fund (IMF) in coming weeks and to avoid a possible default.

But opposition parties, unions and non-party affiliated protesters reject the program, arguing it strangles households, businesses and the economy, and that previous austerity measures introduced a year ago in exchange for an initial EU/IMF bailout have only exacerbated the recession.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is to meet President Karolos Papoulias Wednesday noon to discuss the current economic and social situation, amid growing rumors of a cabinet reshuffle or early general election.

In the meantime, police has stepped up security measures, raising metal barriers around parliament to keep thousands of strikers at a distance.

Source: Xinhua
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