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Greek teachers clash with riot police during protests over layoffs

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Greek teachers have clashed with police as demonstrators took to the streets in capital, Athens, to protest against public sector layoffs and forced transfers in the austerity-hit nation.

Police fired tear gas at striking teachers and school patrol guards who tried to enter the Administrative Reforms Ministry in the country’s capital city on Monday.

The high school teachers’ union, OLME, started the five-day strike against a government move to place thousands of public sector workers in a self-styled mobility scheme.

As part of a general restructuring of the public sector, Athens must place 25,000 workers in the mobility scheme by the end of the year.

The government must also meet a mandatory dismissal of 15,000 public sector employees in 2013-14.

The teachers said the firings or transfers are a “major blow” to secondary education and would compound the pain felt by austerity-hit households.

Lawyers, nurses and doctors are also expected to join the walkout, as the government aims to reform their professions.

Greece has witnessed three years of austerity policies imposed by the government in a bid to win bailout loans from international creditors, including the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission.

The country was severely hit by recession in 2008 due to fiscal mismanagement resulting in tax rises and spending cuts.

Meanwhile, Greece’s unemployment rate stands at more than double the eurozone’s average reading of 12.1 percent. Nearly one in four Greeks are unemployed.


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