Greece facing new austerity protests

Greece is facing a new wave of austerity protests, this time by police and municipal workers.

With sirens blaring, striking police blocked traffic in Athens Monday at the outset of three days of protests throughout the country. They are demonstrating against demands by the country’s international lenders that Greece dismiss thousands of government workers in exchange for release of more bailout money to the debt-ridden country.

Parliament is set to vote later in the week on the austerity plan. It is the latest in a series of unpopular steps the country has been forced to take to secure more funding from the country’s European neighbors, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The lenders agreed last week to a new payout of nearly $9 billion to keep the country from going bankrupt, but only if Athens agreed to cut 15,000 jobs by the end of 2014 and reassign another 12,500 workers this year.

One police official, Petros Varelas, said government workers want to know how they would be affected by the layoffs.

“We are demanding very clearly work for everyone. We are asking the government to make it clear in the bill of law that is to pass where our colleagues are going to be transferred. Furthermore, for us suspension is a red line.”

Municipal authorities throughout Greece have suspended services for three days. Union officials have called a general strike for Tuesday.

(Photo: Vangelis Thomaidis)