The two largest unions of the country, ADEDY and GSEE representing together about 2.5 million workers have called for a nationwide strike bringing the country to a standstill. The strike will affect public and private sectors as well as doctors, lawyers, teachers, port employees and seamen. Hellenic Railways (OSE) and suburban rail lines will be on a 24-hour strike. Buses in Athens will run only between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
In a statement GSEE said the strike was the answer to the austerity measures that have made the life of workers difficult and plunged the economy into recession and crisis.
Since 2010, Greece has relied on bailout loans from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund. To continue receiving these loans, the Greek government has cut the salaries and pensions of workers, stimulating many strikes and demonstrations.
This latest 24-hour general strike comes ahead of an audit by Athens’ international creditors scheduled for next week. The outcome from the audit will determine whether the country will receive its next installment from its international creditors, which is due this month.
Meanwhile, a visit by French President Francois Hollande in Athens on Tuesday went largely unreported as Greek journalists were on strike.
During the brief meeting, Papoulias told the French president that the Greek people’s tolerance for more cutbacks and sacrifices has been exhausted, warning of a possible “social explosion” if more pressure is exerted on the people. In his reply, Hollande said he did not arrive to demand more sacrifices from the Greek people. He also stressed the importance of Greece remaining in the Eurozone, and that a return to the drachma “would have been a catastrophe … the Eurozone crisis is over, the economic crisis continues…” AMNA reported.
At the same time, government said yesterday it would not fire almost 1,900 civil servants earmarked for possible dismissal, despite promising foreign lenders it would seek to cut the public payroll, Reuters writes.
Unemployment is expected to reach 30 percent this year, according to a study by a government funded research agency published last week.