Doctors, port workers and public transport staff in the Greek capital Athens went on strike to lodge their protest against unpopular austerity measures that have seen incomes slashed as the country struggles to emerge from a deep financial crisis.
The main GSEE union while announcing the general strike said that the brutal suppression of workers’ basic and fundamental rights and the bleeding dry through taxation of workers and pensioners have gone beyond all limits.
On Thursday morning, hundreds of protesters gathered at separate demonstrations, with port workers rallying in Greece’s main port of Piraeus and about 500 public hospital workers chanting slogans outside the Health Ministry in central Athens. Due to the strike by the employees of the public transport department, Athens was left without buses, suburban rail and trolleys for the day, while Greek islands will be without ferry services for two days.
As the doctors and ambulance workers were also on strike, the public hospitals were working with the help of emergency staff. The civil servants’ union declared a three-hour work stoppage at all public services from noon in solidarity, shutting down other services such as post offices.
Since late 2009 Greece has been gripped by a severe financial crisis. The country is being kept afloat by billions of euros in rescue loans from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund. In return the Greek government has number of austerity measures like spending cuts and tax hikes, leading to severe salary and pension cuts and leaving unemployment spiraling to above 26 percent. Many of the employees have not got their salaries for months.