Greek Unions to Strike on Thursday

The Associated Press is reporting that Greek unions will stage their second nationwide strike in a week on Thursday, shutting down all public services and closing customs offices, halting public transport and grounding flights for 24 hours.

Unions are protesting the Socialist government's harsh austerity measures, which are designed to curb the country's massive debt and pull it out of an unprecedented financial crisis that has hammered the euro. The measures have cut civil servants' salaries, frozen pensions and increased taxes, including on fuel and general sales tax.

Government officials concede that austerity measures will worsen Greece's recession in 2010. An economic contraction of just 0.3 percent is predicted in this year's budget that was passed before additional cuts were implemented.

Workers are expected to walk off the job from midnight Wednesday night.

Air traffic controllers will be among those striking, while officers from the police, fire service and coast guard plan to join protest rallies.

A general strike last Friday was marred by violence during a large protest march. Riot police used tear gas and baton charges against rock-throwing protesters, who smashed banks and storefronts.


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