Greece’s largest labor unions are staging a general strike against plans to extend austerity measures, in a 24-hour protest that halted ferry services to the islands, and disrupted flights, public transport and other services.
Wednesday’s strike also closed schools and left public hospitals running on emergency staff.
Government budget austerity measures are due to continue for at least two more years after the international bailout ends in August, starting with another major round of pension cuts next January. Hundreds of protesters gathered in central Athens as several protest marches are planned in the capital and other cities Wednesday.
“The government is continuing disastrous policies for society and the economy, forcing unsustainable measures onto the backs of wage-earners and retired people,” the country’s largest union, the GSEE, said.
“The constant deterioration in the living standards is part of a downward trend that people [in government] chose not to see.”
Greece is currently negotiating the terms of its bailout exit with European creditors, including how its finances will be monitored and the conditions of a promised debt relief package. But the talks, due to be concluded in a few weeks, have been overshadowed by the political crisis in Italy and the resulting financial turmoil.
Eurozone member Greece has relied on money from three consecutive bailouts since losing market access in 2010. The rescue funds have been provided by a eurozone bailout fund and the International Monetary Fund, though the IMF has held off on a cash contribution toward Greece latest program.
A new round of administrative and market reforms demanded by creditors is due to be voted on in parliament on June 14.