Greek workers strike ahead of new austerity vote
Greek public transport workers and journalists have launched a week of strikes against a new round of austerity measures the Athens government is seeking to impose.
Tram and metro stations throughout the capital were closed Monday, and journalists began a 24-hour walkout over job layoffs. A 48-hour strike is set to begin Tuesday, including a three-hour work stoppage by air traffic controllers.
“I want the entire country to go on strike. The entire country to shut down because these measures must not pass. It’s so simple. If the country can shut down for a whole month I’m in favor of that,” said Athens resident Aris.
Greece’s government is proposing $17 billion in spending, benefit and pension cuts, and parliament will vote on the new austerity package Wednesday. Greece’s lenders are demanding the labor reforms in exchange for handing the country another segment of a bailout to keep the country from running out of money.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Sunday warned about the risks the country faces if parliament does not pass the measures, saying the country could be forced out of the eurozone.
Even after weeks of negotiations, the governing coalition has been unable to reach agreement on the extent of the reforms.
Greece is in the fifth year of a recession, and more than a quarter of its workforce is unemployed.