New Austerity Protests Rattle Greek Economy
Greeks staged a large national strike to protest government cuts and higher taxes. The action promises to bring the Greek economy to its knees at a time when the reversal of the gross domestic product collapse is necessary for the nation to meet the budget targets set by its neighbors, the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, which have loaned Greece hundreds of billions of euros. Greece may be able to take scissors to its national government expenses, but it cannot force people to work, pay taxes and create and consumer products and services.
Greece’s two biggest labor unions brought much of the near-bankrupt country to a standstill during a 24-hour strike over the cuts, which they say only deepen the plight of a people struggling to get through the country’s worst peacetime downturn.
Representing about 2.5 million workers, the unions have gone on strike repeatedly since Europe’s debt crisis erupted in late 2009, testing the government’s will to implement necessary reforms in the face of growing public anger.
“The (strike) is our answer to the dead-end policies that have squeezed the life out of workers, impoverished society and plunged the economy into recession and crisis,” said the private sector union GSEE, which is organizing the walkout with its public sector sister union ADEDY.