Greece hit with new general strike over reforms
ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
Protesting civil servants hold banners during a rally in central Syntagma Square outside the Greek Parliament in Athens, Monday, July 15, 2013. AP photoGreece on Tuesday braced for a fourth general strike of the year against fresh austerity measures the government is imposing in order to keep receiving EU-IMF loans.
Unions have called for a one-day national mobilisation against a new bill that implements fresh reforms, including the re-deployment of thousands of civil servants, who have been hit by sweeping pay and pension cuts over the past three years.
The bill is needed in order for Greece to start receiving 6.8 billion euros ($8.9 billion) of fresh aid that eurozone finance ministers agreed to release at a meeting last week.
The strike will shut down public services, slow down hospitals, block the national rail service and disrupt over a dozen domestic flights.
Protests will be held in Athens and Thessaloniki later in the day.
If the bill passes as expected on Wednesday, 4,200 civil servants -- teachers, school wardens and municipal police who are to be integrated into the national force -- will be placed under so-called redeployment.
They will receive 75 percent of their salary for an eight-month period, at the end of which, if they have not accepted a transfer to some other administrative department, they risk losing their jobs.
Under the terms of its latest EU-IMF bailout deal agreed in 2012, Greece is expected to axe 4,000 state jobs and redeploy 25,000 civil servants overall by the end of the year.
The debt-wracked country has had to enact a string of austerity measures over the past four years in return for multi-billion euro international bailouts to avoid default.
The measures -- which include reforms to the bloated civil service -- are deeply unpopular in the country that recently entered a sixth straight year of recession and where unemployment has climbed to 27 percent, a level unseen in Greece's modern history. Among the youth, unemployment stands at 64 percent.