Bloomberg News

Greece Hit by Strikes, Work Stoppages Against Austerity Measures

October 12, 2011

Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Greek state workers blocked access to the Finance Ministry’s main building in central Athens as protests mount against government plans to cut jobs and wages to meet conditions for international loans.

Members of the Federation of Finance Ministry Unions hung a banner reading “Occupation” from the top of the eight-story building and placed black flags around the roof. The federation plans a nine-day strike beginning Oct. 17, according to an e- mailed statement from the Athens-based group today.

Strikes and work stoppages will affect government services, transport, hospitals, schools and tourist sites in the run-up to next week’s Parliament vote on Prime Minister George Papandreou’s plans to cut wages and pensions and dismiss 30,000 workers. Greece’s private and public sector unions have called a 24-hour general strike on Oct. 19.

European Union and International Monetary Fund officials indicated yesterday Greece will qualify for an 8 billion-euro ($11 billion) loan next month, part of a 110 billion-euro bailout to avert the country from defaulting. The officials said Greece would miss its 2011 deficit target.

More spending cuts will be needed in 2013 and 2014, the officials said, underlining that revenue assumptions are “ambitious”.

Papandreou risks a replay of social and political unrest that almost brought down his government in June when he was forced to push through a 78 billion-euro package of budget cuts and state asset sales before receiving a fifth loan payment under the May 2010 bailout.

Museums, Hospitals Shut

Culture Ministry employees began a 48-hour strike today, shutting down museums and archaeological sites. Greek prisons will operate on reduced staff due to a 24-hour strike today and work stoppages on Oct. 13 and 14. Dockworkers at Greek ports stopped work for four hours today and ferry services to the Greek islands will be disrupted by a 48-hour strike on Oct. 17 by the Pan-Hellenic Seamen’s Federation.

The Athens metro, used by 620,000 passengers daily, along with city buses, trams and trolleys won’t operate for two days starting tomorrow due to a strike. Transit employees have held strikes and work stoppages since Sept. 2.

School teachers will hold a three-hour walkout tomorrow to protest cuts to school budgets and workers at state hospitals will walk off the job for four hours. Health Minister Andreas Loverdos cut 900 million euros from the state-run health service last year, according to a statement from the ministry yesterday.

City workers have blocked access to city garages and garbage dumps around Greece, causing rubbish to pile up on streets.

Separately, Hellenic Petroleum SA workers called off a strike begun yesterday to oppose changes to collective labor agreements, Naftemporiki reported. Collective work agreements at the company won’t be changed, the Athens-based daily said, without citing anyone.

-- With assistance from Maria Petrakis and Natalie Weeks in Athens

--With assistance from Natalie Weeks in Athens. Editors: Maria Petrakis, Zimri Smith

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Stoukas in Athens at astoukas@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at acullen8@bloomberg.net


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