Greek Public Sector Workers Protest Amid Economic Crisis

November 25
3:31 PM 2016

About 3,000 Greek public sector workers gathered on Thursday in a strike against labor and pension reforms, as well as state asset sales.

ADEDY, Greece's main public sector union called on state hospital doctors, school teachers and municipality workers to join the nationwide strike. Seamen, who had a separate protest, started a 24-hour walkout causing ships to remain docked at ports.

The protest came after the government agreed to the terms of the country's creditors in exchange for bailout loans.

Beating drums and waving flags, the striking workers marched to the parliament chanting, "Tax the rich!" They also held banners bearing messages such as "Our needs above their profits" and "No more cuts!"

"Workers and the poor are always the ones to pay the cost of the crisis," ADEDY said in a statement.

Last April, the public sector workers also held a protest against the pension and tax reforms demanded by the country's foreign lenders. This resulted to grounded flights and disruption of services at tax and municipal offices as the workers walked off the job.

The country's economic crisis and recession have driven thousands of people out of work and squeezed wages. Although next year's budget projects a 2.7 percent growth, it will also raise taxes, including value-added tax, in order to increase revenue.

The labor reforms of European Union and International Monetary Fund, remain unpopular for Athens.

Greece calls for a swift assessment to qualify for more debt relief and inclusion in the ECB's bond-buying program. This will allow it to regain market access before 2018.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, however, stood firm that Athens could not accept irrational demands.

Reforms in the energy sector also bothered labor unions as they have strongly protested against the sale of utilities, including a stake at Public Power Corp., the country's main electrical utility.

Shareholders of the said power company approved the sale of 24 percent stake in power grid ADMIE to China's State Grid.

This key privatization deal under the bailout is expected to be signed on January 2017.

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