Source Pravda.Ru

Transport Halted, Flights Down, Hospitals Closed in Greek Protests

Greek public transport was halted, flights grounded and state hospitals left with emergency staff only on Thursday as workers held yet another general strike to protest painful spending cuts.

Debt-plagued Greece has faced a new wave of labor discontent since the Socialist government's harsh new austerity plan was introduced last week in an effort to trim its ballooning deficit and shore up the support of skeptical markets.

Under intense pressure from the European Union to quickly show fiscal improvement, the government announced an additional euro4,8 billion ($65.33 billion) in savings through public sector salary cuts, hiring and pension freezes and consumer tax hikes, The Associated Press reported.

The national news agency ANA stopped its tickers for 24 hours from 6am (1500 AEDT), and newspaper staff stopped working. Tax and garbage collectors have been on strike since the start of the week.

The private sector union GSEE and its public sector sister ADEDY, which together represent half of the country's 5 million workforce, say the EU-backed austerity plan will hurt the poor and aggravate the recession-hit country's economic problems.

"Workers will raise their fist and shout with one voice: We won't pay for the crisis," GSEE said in a statement. "No one, nothing is going to terrorise workers." The level of participation in the strike and protests will be watched closely outside Greece, Reuters informs.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou was in Washington on Tuesday to call on US President Barack Obama to crack down on speculators he said were trying to undermine his country's as it battled its way out of the crisis.

"This is very important to stabilise international markets and to not allow the crises that may occur, such as the one that occurred in Greece, to be used to create wider destabilisation, either of the eurozone or of the world financial system," he said, Ninemsn reports.

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