Strikes by various public sector workers have begun in Greece ahead of a key vote in parliament that would see the first job cuts due to austerity measures. The cuts are part of conditions for an international bailout.
Municipal police officers were among public servants participating in strikes in Athens on Monday which are part of several planned protests against new government cuts. They used their cars and motorcycles to block traffic in parts of Athens.
The officers, normally tasked with checking parking violations and street vendors, are set to strike for three days. Trade unions have called for a 24-hour general strike for Tuesday, which is expected to interrupt flights and rail travel, and interrupt service at hospitals.
Public sector workers, who have already endured several rounds of pay cuts, are now facing layoffs. They are striking under the slogan “General strike – we are people, not numbers.”
The Greek parliament is meeting Wednesday to vote on measures proposed by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras that would result in 15,000 public sector job cuts by 2014, including 4,000 this year. Samaras faces a difficult test as he lost the support of one of his coalition partners last month, meaning his majority has grown thin.
Greece’s cuts are a result of the demands of the country’s international creditors and are conditions for the next installment of bailout money, worth 6.8 billion euros ($8.9 billion).
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is due in Athens on Thursday for a meeting with government officials. He is seen as one of the main architects of a 240-billion-euro bailout dating back to 2010 given to Greece by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
mz/hc (AP, dpa)