News / Europe

Strikes Paralyze Athens Amid Violent Clashes

Riot police deal with an exploding petrol bomb during riots by anti-austerity demonstrators in Athens' Syntagma [Constitution] square, October 19, 2011.
Riot police deal with an exploding petrol bomb during riots by anti-austerity demonstrators in Athens' Syntagma [Constitution] square, October 19, 2011.
Henry Ridgwell

Protesters and police have clashed outside the Greek parliament as a massive protest and general strike shut down Athens. Both public and private sector unions are backing the industrial action against the government’s plans to slash the salaries of public workers and raise taxes. The government says the measures are vital if it is to receive the next slice of bailout money.



An estimated 70,000 people marched Wednesday, protesting against the government’s latest round of austerity measures. A small number attempted to break into the building - launching stones and petrol bombs at police - who returned fire with tear gas.

This is the largest strike and protest Athens has seen since June. Steel worker Thanasis Protellis said they will not back down.

"This government must fall and all the parties that support these measures must fall with it,” he said.

Riot police spray tear gas at demonstrators during clashes in Athens' Syntagma [Constitution] square, October 19, 2011.
Riot police spray tear gas at demonstrators during clashes in Athens' Syntagma [Constitution] square, October 19, 2011.

Athens is frozen operationally. The 48-hour strike by public and private sector workers has seen flights grounded. In Piraeus, the port of Athens, the ferries are anchored and going nowhere.

Schools are closed, while banks and shops will stay shuttered until Friday at the earliest.

Ilias Iliopoulos, general secretary of ADEDY, the public workers’ union, said the austerity measures are crippling Greece.

“Normal workers are paying higher taxes, they’re getting lower salaries, lower pensions, resulting in the economy being literally destroyed,” he said. “This has led to 500,000 businesses shutting down, and this, in turn, to 1.2 million people unemployed who find it hard to live, let alone pay the state taxes.”

Not all Greek workers want to strike. Stefanos Troupakis, a stockbroker with Piraeus Bank, said, "It’s a very difficult environment to get your job done every day. It just makes simple things more difficult, so let alone having to face all the problems that we’re all facing. It just makes things worse.”

Politicians are voting on two bills, which would see 30,000 public workers put on reduced pay, taxes raised and pensions reduced further. It’s aimed at cutting the huge debt, now running at 162 percent of GDP.

To receive the next $11 billion of bailout money, Greece must satisfy the IMF, the EU and the European Central Bank - the so-called troika - that it can slash spending.

Political commentator Kostas Raptis said most Greeks believe the only way out is a default on the debt.

“Things get even worse by applying the troika rules. It’s a death spiral. Austerity makes the GDP contract. So how could Greece get out of this trap?” asked Raptis.

It’s a trap that Europe’s politicians fear could ensnare bigger economies like Italy and Spain. Analysts say the consequences of that would be far greater than the fallout from Greece.


You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid