Greeks go on strike ahead of Merkel visit

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

Nor­mal life dis­rupted with schools and phar­ma­cies shut as labour unions strike against aus­ter­ity poli­cies. Greek labour unions are stag­ing a na­tion­wide strike to protest against aus­ter­ity poli­cies im­posed on the coun­try by its for­eign cred­i­tors, in­clud­ing Ger­many, whose chan­cel­lor, An­gela Merkel, will visit Athens this week.

Schools and phar­ma­cies were shut, ships re­mained docked at ports, hos­pi­tals op­er­ated on emer­gency staff and trans­port in Athens was dis­rupted on Wed­nes­day due to the walk­out called by pri­vate sec­tor union, the Gen­eral Con­fed­er­a­tion of Greek Work­ers (GSEE), and its pub­lic sec­tor coun­ter­part, the Civil Ser­vants’ Con­fed­er­a­tion (ADEDY).

Thou­sands of strik­ing work­ers, pen­sion­ers and the un­em­ployed were ex­pected to march to par­lia­ment around noon.

“This is our an­swer to the dead­end poli­cies that have squeezed work­ers and made Greek people mis­er­able,” GSEE said in a state­ment. “We are strik­ing and fight­ing to put an end to aus­ter­ity”.

Unions said their anti-aus­ter­ity mes­sage was also aimed at Merkel, who is due to meet Greek Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras in Athens on Fri­day. Ger­many has in­sisted on painful spend­ing cuts and tax hikes in re­turn for in­ter­na­tional loans.

GSEE and ADEDY have staged dozens of strikes since Greece’s first bailout in 2010, say­ing the mea­sures pre­scribed by the Euro­pean Union and the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund have hit the poor and wors­ened its six-year re­ces­sion.

But protests have largely fiz­zled out, with low turnout blamed on a grow­ing mood of res­ig­na­tion and protest fa­tigue.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts will be watch­ing the turnout in Wed­nes­day’s street protests.

The dis­rup­tion is ex­pected to be most keenly felt in mar­itime trans­port such as the ferry ser­vices to and be­tween the Greek is­lands and also on the rail­ways. Aljazeera

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