Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Greece's two biggest labor unions plan 24-hour strike

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 20th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Greece's two biggest labor unions are planning to bring much of the near-bankrupt country to a standstill during a 24-hour strike. The strikes are in response to anti-austerity measures, which they claim only deepen the plight of a people struggling to get through the country's worst peacetime recession.
 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Representing about 2.5 million workers, the unions have repeatedly gone on strike since Europe's debt crisis erupted in late 2009. The cuts have tested the government's will to implement necessary reforms in the face of growing public anger.

"The (strike) is our answer to the dead-end policies that have squeezed the life out of workers, impoverished society and plunged the economy into recession and crisis," private sector union GSEE says. "Our struggle will continue for as long as these policies are implemented," the union said.

Eager to prove it will implement reforms promised to the European Union and International Monetary Fund, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's eight-month-old coalition government has been bailed out twice with over 200 billion euros.

Emergency laws have been invoked twice this year in order to send seamen and subway workers back to the job after week-long walkouts that stranded public transport in Athens and led to food shortages on islands.

The Greek government did announce this week it would not fire almost 1,900 civil servants earmarked for possible dismissal, despite promising foreign lenders it would seek to cut the public payroll.

Strikes have picked up over the past few months, underscoring Greeks' anger at record high unemployment and poverty levels. French President Francois Hollande' visit this week in Athens went largely uncovered as Greek journalists were on strike.

Farmers have been protesting at high production costs and fuel prices in northern and central Greece for nearly a month, occasionally blocking the country's main north-south highway.

Most business and public sector activity are expected to come to a halt during the strike, with school teachers, train and bus employees and bankers among various groups joining the walkout.

Hospitals will have only emergency staff and ships will stay in port as sea workers plan to defy government orders to return to work.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)