Major strike hits Athens.jpg

Major strike hits Athens

THE GREEK capital of Athens was hit by a major strike on Wednesday as thousands of workers marched onto the streets in protest at the government’s economic policies.

Flights in and out of Athens airport were cancelled, and public transport was badly disrupted by the industrial action which was planned weeks ago but followed days of riots sparked by the police shooting of a teenager.

Around 5,000 workers gathered in Constitution Square in central Athens for a rally outside the Greek parliament, waving banners and shouting anti-government slogans.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had asked the two main unions, the Greek General Confederation of Workers (GSEE) and the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) to cancel the rally but his request was ignored.

Both unions demanded increased social spending in light of the world financial crisis, as well as higher wages and pensions. According to Stathis Anestis, spokesman for the GSEE: “Participation in the strike is total; the country has come to a standstill.”

Opposition Socialist leader George Papandreou called for early elections, saying that the people had lost confidence in the government, which could not handle the crisis.

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