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Greek transport workers wage strike

By Associated Press
December 9, 2010

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ATHENS — Public transport ground to a halt in Athens yesterday as workers walked off the job for a 24-hour strike in the latest display of union opposition to austerity measures in crisis-hit Greece.

The capital was left without buses, the metro, trams, or trolleys, while national rail services were also halted as workers protested plans by the Socialist government to restructure state-run transport companies and reduce subsidy payments.

Ferry services to Greek islands and flights were not affected.

More than 2,000 striking transport workers marched to Parliament in the center of Athens chanting: “No sacrifice for the banks, hands off public transport.’’

The government has imposed strict austerity measures, including cutting civil servants’ salaries, freezing pensions, and hiking consumer taxes, in return for a $145.88 billion three-year bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund and other European Union countries that use the euro as their currency.

The measures have led to a backlash from labor unions, which have organized a series of strikes and demonstrations. They have called a nationwide general strike — the country’s seventh this year — for Wednesday, demanding the measures be eased.

Athens is renegotiating the time frame for repaying the loans, which run to 2013. Both the EU and the IMF have voiced support for the repayment schedule to be extended.