By Lefteris Kretsos
Saturday, 29 September 2012
Greek workers carried out a 24-hour general strike this week as 50,000 people demonstrated in Athens against austerity. The conservative coalition government is proposing $15 billion of further cuts to pensions and salaries.
Police responded with tear gas when some demonstrators hurled Molotov cocktails at the finance ministry and parliament.
The strike was called by the country’s two biggest unions, which between them represent half the workforce. It was the latest of at least 10 general strikes since 2010.
A survey conducted by the MRB polling agency last week found that more than 90 percent of Greeks believe the planned cuts are unfair and a burden on the poor.
Official unemployment in the country runs at 25 percent; fully half of young people have no work. Those Greeks still working would labor six days a week under the new plan.
Already this year the minimum wage was cut by 22 percent, and for those under 25, by 32 percent. In January, the public electricity company raised rates 15-20 percent. The government has ordered an expiration date no later than February 2013 for all collective bargaining agreements.
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