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New anti-austerity strike hits Athens

(Xinhua)

10:23, January 18, 2012

ATHENS, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- A new anti-austerity 24-hour strike and protest hit Athens on Tuesday, as auditors of international creditors returned to Greece for talks on the release of a second aid package.

Some 12,000 strikers took part in two rallies staged in central Athens by the umbrella union of private sector employees GSEE and Greek Communist Party members.

Waving banners with slogans such as "We are all united. We struggle for decent jobs and lives for all," protesters denounced a new wave of cutbacks on salaries and pensions and tax increases promoted by the interim coalition government.

The measures have been introduced to meet deficit-cutting targets agreed with international lenders since 2010 in order to secure further vital bailout loans and overcome the debt crisis, but demonstrators argued that the mounting burden that has dramatically reduced incomes is unbearable.

Amongst them was 23-year old Argiro Stavropoulou, a student who works as a part-time waitress. "Unity is our only weapon left against these policies that strangle us. I can no longer pay for a crisis created by bankers and politicians. They steal my right to dream. They condemn us to poverty," she told Xinhua at Syntagma Square.

Demonstrators marched peacefully to the parliament and dispersed peacefully this time.

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