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Worldcrunch

General Strike Brings Greece To A Standstill

KATHERIMINI (Greece), THE GUARDIAN (UK), REUTERS

Worldcrunch

ATHENS - The three-month old Greek coalition government is facing its first anti-austerity general strike Wednesday, with disruptions bringing the country to a standstill.

Greek public sector unions have called a strike that is likely to draw thousands of workers out into the street today to protest against the new rounds of austerity measures, initiated by the conservative-led coalition government and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras

The revelation of new spending cuts, worth nearly $15.5 billion in order to secure aid, and the expected slashing of wages, pensions and welfare benefits has been met with a sour response from the Greek public, a third of whom now live under the poverty line.

Reuters reports that the MRB polling agency last week published a report showing 90% of Greeks believe the planned cuts are unfair and burden the poor.

Costas Tsikrikas, head of the ADEDY public sector union that is calling for the strikes, told Reuters: "The new measures are unbearable, unfair and only worsen the crisis. We are determined to fight until we win."

"We call on all workers to join us in the march against the policies that the troika is imposing," Tsikrikas said.

Greek daily Katherimini reports that flights have been grounded for a three-hour walkout, ships moored and shutters pulled down in Greece's major cities in preparation for the mass protests.

Three thousand police officers have been deployed in Athens as Greek authorities expect demonstrations to become violent, after February's clashes between demonstrators and the police. 

The Guardian is reporting that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and head of the IMF Christine Lagarde will meet in Athens today to attempt to negotiate a joint EU-IMF venture.

The British daily's Athens correspondent Helena Smith wrote: "This comes against a backdrop of reports that Merkel and Lagarde are at odds over how to proceed with the debt-stricken country following clear evidence of what the IMF managing director has described as a 'financing gap' in Athens’ EU-IMF-sponsored rescue program."

"Growing pressure from the Washington-based fund for a restructuring of Greece’s debt mountain – this time in the official sector i.e, by EU governments - has reportedly exacerbated tensions."

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