Greeks Demand an End to Austerity, Hold Nationwide Strike

Thousands of workers in Greece did not go to work on Wednesday but instead took part in a nationwide strike marching through the center of Athens protesting the additional austerity measures that international lenders have demanded in exchange for releasing the next schedule bailout monies.

The main private and public sector unions called the nationwide strike one day prior to the Greek parliament meeting to vote on the reforms that would help in unlocking the funds from the bailout of €86 million, the country’s third such bailout in the past seven years.

The new austerity measures that are attached to the release of the funds include a thirteenth cut in the country’s pensions in the past 7 years and a lowering of allowances that are tax free on income.

These measures come following years of different cuts that for a period threw the nation into a deep recession.

Unemployment in Greece is close to 25% and amongst the youth of Greece the unemployment rate is an astronomical 48%.

Doctors, teachers, lawyers and pensioners stopped work while there was also a disruption in public transportation throughout Greece’s capital of Athens.

Over 14,000 people took to Athens’ streets to participate in the marches, according to police estimates.

Banners were carried by protesters that call for no more austerity and to bring back the rights that were taken away from the people. Those protesting chanted that the lenders talk losses and gains and the people talk about human lives.

Anger was expressed by several at the leftist coalition government headed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras whose Syriza Party won election after promising no more austerity cuts.

The government said it would end the austerity cuts said one protester, but instead they gave us a disaster.

Greece agreed to more spending cuts that would end the standoff in talks with foreign lenders related to the progress of the bailout.

Once these new measures have been approved by Greece’s parliament, as they are expected to be, finance ministers from the euro zone will then start discussing disbursement of loans May 22 at the next Eurogroup meeting.

The funds are needed urgently by Athens to repay debut of $8.18 billion that matures in July.

The latest round of cuts have been designed to create a savings that is worth 2% of the country’s gross national product and fulfill a target of 3.5% of the primary surplus of the GDP, which excludes the servicing costs for debt.

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