APN News

  • Saturday, November, 2021| Today's Market | Current Time: 07:25:58
  • Greek strike disrupts flights, cripples services

    Published on February 23, 2011

    A general strike halted public transportation across Greece on Wednesday and led to the cancellation of more than 100 flights at Athens International Airport, as unions stepped up opposition to the country’s austerity measures.

    State hospital doctors, ambulance drivers, pharmacists, lawyers and tax collectors also joined school teachers, journalists and thousands of small businesses in the 24-hour strike as more middle-class groups took part in the protest than have in the past.
    Athens’ main shopping district was mostly empty, as many small business owners shuttered their stores.

    This year’s first major labor protest in Greece began as Prime Minister George Papandreou’s Socialist government faces international pressure to make more lasting cuts after the nation’s debt-crippled economy was rescued from bankruptcy by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

    Riot police took up positions around the city on Wednesday ahead of two midday rallies to Parliament amid fears the mass protests could turn violent.

    The government urged protest organisers to prevent potentially violent groups from blending in with peaceful protesters a common problem for Greek police at large rallies.

    “Those who organise rallies must also police them. Everyone has the right to express their views in protest but it must be peaceful … It will be a crucial day,” Public Order Minister Christos Papoutsis said.

    The strike halted trains, ferries and most public transport across the country, and idled many airlines at the international airport.

    “For us workers, even though the legislation (for austerity measures) has passed, they are not a part of our lives. We have not accepted them,” striking postal worker Dimitris Katsantonis said while standing outside a closed central Athens post office.

    Unions are angry at ongoing austerity measures put in place by the Socialist government in exchange for a USD 150 billion bailout loan package from European countries and the IMF.

    Stathis Anestis, deputy leader of Greece’s largest union, the GSEE, said workers should not be asked to make more sacrifices during a third straight year of recession.

    “The measures forced on us by the agreement with our lenders are harsh and unfair. … We are facing long-term austerity with high unemployment and destabilising our social structure,” Anestis said.

    “What is increasing is the level of anger and desperation … If these harsh policies continue, so will we.