Greek, Portuguese workers stage new protests against austerity

Workers in Greece and Portugal staged new protests Wednesday against austerity measures that are cutting their wages.

A Greek general strike – one of more than 30 in the last three years – disrupted flights, trains and ferry services nationwide and shut government offices and state-run schools.

Thousands of workers demonstrated in the streets of central Athens against new efforts by lenders for debt-ridden Greece to impose more spending cuts on the national government. Representatives from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are meeting with Greek officials to resolve budget issues before the lenders will agree to release another portion of the country’s latest bailout.

Workers, like union leader Gerasimos Tsekouras, say the austerity cuts over the last several years have had a huge impact on their families.

“We can’t take it anymore,” he said. “Everyday, the troika and the IMF unfortunately are destroying our wages, and we can’t take care of our kids anymore. We are starting to have a problem with basic survival.”

In Portugal, less than half of commuter trains were operating during the morning rush hour as workers protested against pay and entitlement cuts. Lisbon cut spending for mass transportation as part of a deal with international lenders when it secured its 2011 bailout.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)