The fourth such strike of the year is expected to paralyse train and ferry traffic, disrupt flights and shut down public services as unions seek to send a message to the government that they will not tolerate a third straight year of cuts. The coalition government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is holding delicate negotiations with Greece’s so-called ‘troika’ of creditors — the EU, IMF and European Central Bank — to secure the release of loans needed to avoid bankruptcy.
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The government has been told by its creditors to jumpstart flagging economic reforms and lighten the budget by 9.2 billion euros ($12 billion) next year in order to secure a 31.5-billion-euro loan slice next month. The money is part of an overall EU-IMF bailout of 130 billion euros that is tied to Greek reform pledges, including a long-delayed privatisation drive.
Waves of prior austerity measures over the last two years managed to slash Greece’s runaway deficit by over six percent of output, at the cost of cuts to wages, pensions and benefits. One in four Greeks are officially unemployed — with the real number higher still according to unions — and the economy is in a deepening recession. Read more >>