More than 10,000 Greek workers have taken to the streets in the capital to protest against the government’s austerity measures, as inspectors of the troika of international lenders are in Athens to review the country’s bailout.
Some 12,000 people participated in two separate marches to parliament on Wednesday in Athens.
Similar protests were also held in the country’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, where some 10,000 people demonstrated against the government’s reforms.
Protesters argue cuts to salaries and pensions demanded by the troika are causing them basic survival problems.
“Enough is enough, we’ve lost our dignity,” said protester Fotini Halikiopoulou, adding, “We’ve sacrificed everything and they (the troika) are not budging an inch.”
The marches were held while the country’s largest public and private sector unions staged a 24-hour strike in protest against the pay cuts as well as planned layoffs within the public sector and privatizations.
Among those who joined the strike were school teachers, doctors, municipal and transport workers. Air traffic controllers staged a three-hour walkout between 1000 and 1300 GMT.
This comes while inspectors from the troika of European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are visiting Athens to resume their latest bailout review.
According to Greek union officials, labor unions are concerned that Athens would have to impose fresh wage and pension cuts in a bid to meet its bailout targets in the coming years.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ coalition government has rejected further wage and pension cuts or tax increases to fill any budget gaps.
During a televised interview on Tuesday, Samaras said, “Society cannot take it, the economy cannot take it, and it is not even required by the country’s current financial situation.”
Greece has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis and is experiencing its sixth year of recession, while harsh austerity measures have left tens of thousands of people without jobs.
The country’s unemployment is currently above 27 percent, banks are in a shaky position, and pensions and salaries have been slashed.
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