Greece braces for new general strike

AP News
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Posted: May 11, 2011 3:07 AM
Greece braces for new general strike

Greek labor unions were planning a general strike and a mass protest on Wednesday against the country's economic austerity measures.

The actions are expected to halt most public services and ground flights between noon and 4 p.m. They were called to oppose a new round of cuts to be voted on by parliament later this month, worth an estimated euro23 billion ($33 billion) in savings through 2015.

Greece is receiving euro110 billion ($158 billion) in rescue loans in a 2010-2013 program from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Despite drastic spending cuts, the nation may need additional support to meet its financing needs next year, with borrowing rates in bond markets remaining too high.

An opinion poll commissioned by the private Mega TV station and published Tuesday said 71 percent of the public oppose the government's handling of the economic crisis, compared with 66 percent in February.

The Socialists' 18-month-old government held a slender lead over the main opposition conservatives. Details on the number of peope questioned in the poll and its margin of error were not provided.

Greece's largest labor union, the GSEE, is organizing Wednesday's 24-hour strike together with the public sector union, ADEDY.

A GSEE statement said the strike is aimed at expressing workers' "strong protest at the (government's) unjust and cruel policies that have caused a surge in unemployment ... violated labor rights, and squandered public wealth, while failing to insure an exit from recession."