June 15 (Bloomberg) -- Greece’s ports, banks, hospitals and state-run companies grind to a halt today as the two biggest labor unions strike to oppose Prime Minister George Papandreou’s additional budget cuts and asset sales.
ADEDY, the largest public-sector union, and the General Confederation of Labor, or GSEE, the biggest private-sector union, called the third general strike of the year to protest the government’s five-year fiscal plan and program of state asset sales, according to e-mailed statements.
Papandreou aims to get the 78 billion-euro ($113 billion) package passed in parliament by the end of the month. He faces growing dissent within his Socialist Pasok party and among Greeks. One Pasok lawmaker said yesterday he won’t vote for the bill, the To Vima newspaper reported. Papandreou holds a six-seat majority in the 300-member assembly.
“This government has the responsibility to save the country from default,” spokesman George Petalotis told reporters in Athens yesterday in response to questions on the strikes.
A group called The People’s Assembly of Syntagma, a reference to Athens’s main square, has called on people to encircle parliament as lawmakers begin a debate on the bill, submitted on June 9. Demonstrators have gathered in the square in front of parliament for 21 days, setting up tents and calling on others to join them. Police said the largest rally was on June 5, when 50,000 people gathered in front of the chamber.
Papandreou’s budget measures, which include higher taxes and lower public-sector wages, are aimed at getting more aid after a 110 billion-euro European Union-led bailout agreed last year failed to secure market access for Greek bonds in 2012.
Public-sector workers, hospital employees, bank workers, police officers and journalists will participate in the 24-hour strike. Ferry schedules will be disrupted and stoppages will take place on the public-transport system during the day.
Unions are opposed to Pasok’s plans to sell stakes in state-owned companies such as Public Power Corp SA. The GENOP union, which represents workers there, plans to hold 48-hour rolling strikes from June 20 until the government backs down, according to an e-mail.
“We demand withdrawal of the harsh and unjust measures being imposed by the government as it has been commanded to do by our lenders,” Athens-based GSEE said in an e-mail.
--Editors: Andrew Atkinson, Eddie Buckle
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