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Athens Taxi Drivers Join Strike

February 19, 2010 By: Jena Tesse Fox

Greece's woes just keep continuing. With customs officials already on strike, Reuters reported today that taxi drivers in Athens walked off the job for 24 hours in the latest protest against the Greek government's EU-driven austerity program, which protesters said would hurt only the poor.

Some Athens filling stations began to run out of gas as another strike by customs officials, which began on Tuesday, was extended until at least mid-next week. Long lines reportedly formed at  stations that still had fuel.

Traffic in central Athens was disrupted as hundreds of taxi drivers marched behind a vanguard of yellow cabs to the finance ministry chanting "Hands off taxis."

They were protesting against plans to make them pay more than a low fixed amount in income tax, and give their customers receipts, and a fuel tax rise which has increased their costs. The government hiked tax on fuel earlier this month and has announced a series of further measures including making Greeks collect receipts for goods and services, such as taxi rides, in an effort to fight tax evasion.

Customs staff decided to extend their stoppage until February 24, when the two biggest unions representing half of Greece's five million workforce plan a one-day general strike against a public sector wage freeze, tax increases and welfare cuts.

However, protests so far have been largely symbolic and lacked widespread public support. Opinion polls show most Greeks back the government's austerity measures provided the pain is fairly shared.


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