Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

FASHION

Jean-Marc Loubier, bags and shoes.

Read more

ENCORE!

Hip-hop musician Beat Assailant on mixing the sounds of the city

Read more

  • French journalist tells of release from captivity in Syria

    Read more

  • South Korea ferry captain defends decision to delay evacuation

    Read more

  • Scores killed in South Sudan cattle raid

    Read more

  • PSG clinch fourth League Cup title after beating Lyon

    Read more

  • Le Pen’s National Front fail to woo Britain’s Eurosceptics

    Read more

  • In pictures: French kite festival takes flight

    Read more

  • VIDEO: Anti-Semitic leaflets in Eastern Ukraine condemned

    Read more

  • In pictures: Good Friday celebrated across the globe

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Ukraine: ‘One bloody incident could scupper Geneva deal’

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • Indian election: Votes for sale

    Read more

  • World honours Garcia Marquez’s magical literary legacy

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • Algeria's ailing Bouteflika clinches fourth term amid fraud claims

    Read more

  • Top Hollande adviser resigns over conflict of interest accusation

    Read more

  • West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of virus

    Read more

Europe

Greece grinds to a halt as general strike gets underway

©

Video by Luke SHRAGO

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-06-28

Workers across Greece walked off the job on Tuesday, kicking off a crippling 48-hour strike with a mass protest in the capital, Athens, as parliament debated a new austerity plan. Police fired tear gas in clashes with protesters.

AFP - Greece ground to a halt Tuesday as angry workers launched a 48-hour general strike against an austerity drive ordered by its bankruptcy-threatened government in exchange for a European bailout.

Crowds converged early on Syntagma Square, where parliament will vote on sweeping spending cuts as planes, ships and most public transport came to a halt.


Europe's economic tsar Olli Rehn in Brussels warned that Greece faced "a critical juncture" and the austerity programme was the "only way to avoid immediate default."

But that view was not shared by protestors, determined to block passage of the package.

"We don't want your money Europe," Iamando, 36, told AFP on the square where police were already out in force at 11:00 am (0800 GMT). "Leave us alone -- please, please, please."

The number of police in the centre of the capital rose to 4,000, according to the authorities, with traffic unable to circulate in central Athens.

Public transport was halted in Athens for the fourth general strike called this year by the country's two biggest unions, with the exception of the metro whose drivers decided not to strike so as to allow Athenians to swell protest numbers.

In the port of Pireus, near Athens, which links most Greek islands with the mainland as the peak tourist season gets under way, around 200 militant unionists staged a picket to prevent ferries from leaving the port.

Banks, too, were closed and even hospitals were operating on reduced staffing while at airports action by air traffic controllers saw domestic flights cancelled by Greek airlines Olympic Air and Aegean and international departures delayed.

A string of rallies got under way, led by a 4,000-strong Communist march to the parliament square -- a magnet for tens of thousands of protesters and an 'indignants' camp where some of thousands involved said they have clocked up 38 straight days.

"We're like the donkey -- the more you hit it, the more determined it gets," one of those who keeps coming back to the square, Omiros (Homer), 29, told AFP.

An employee of the soon-to-be privatised electricity company, he spoke for a generation of Greeks educated abroad -- Bath, England, in his case.

"If they sold the power company in the UK, it wouldn't be for pennies, and they wouldn't hit you with 300 percent price rises," he added of the other principal gripe among a generation of Greeks earning just hundreds of euros per month.

Prime Minister George Papandreou begged lawmakers Monday night to back his plans to slice 28.6 billion euros from government spending by 2015, and sell off the national silver to meet EU and IMF demands for reform.

In Brussels, EU economic affairs chief Rehn urged the Greek parliament to adopt the austerity programme.

"Both the future of the country and financial stability in Europe are at stake," Rehn said in a statement. "The only way to avoid immediate default is for parliament to endorse the revised economic programme."

In a rare criticism of the government, the governor of the Bank of Greece, Giorgos Provopoulos told Tuesday's Kathimerini daily that "piling more taxes on taxpayers has reached its limit."

He said the new plan "does not place enough emphasis on the containment of spending."

Approval of the austerity measures by lawmakers would unblock 12 billion euros of emergency loans from last year's 110-billion-euro bailout and free eurozone finance ministers to start drawing up a second bailout for as much again at talks Sunday in Brussels.

But even a former IMF board member, economist Miranda Xafa of Geneva-based investment managers IJ Partners, says the plan is deeply flawed.

"In the last year, 250,000 people lost their jobs in the private sector -- and none in the public sector," she told AFP.

"Now the country is bankrupt so it has no choice," she said.

She was sceptical about a plan announced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to persuade private sector creditors to extend their exposure to Greek public debt for the next 30 years, another condition for more eurozone government aid.

She said it would almost certainly be seen by the key international rating agencies as a "selective" default.
 

Date created : 2011-06-28

  • FRANCE - GREECE

    France to propose new Greece bailout plan, Sarkozy says

    Read more

  • GREECE

    EU leaders agree to bailout with strict budget cuts

    Read more

  • GREECE

    EU summit approves five-year austerity plan

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)