Earlier today, services across Greece ground to a halt Thursday as workers joined in a massive general strike that cancelled flights, ferries and public transport, shut down schools, courts and pharmacies, and left public hospitals with emergency staff. Even the undertakers are striking.
Thursday’s general strike is the most significant the coalition government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has faced since he initially came to power about a year ago. As an opposition party, Tsipras’ radical left Syriza party had led opposition to pension reforms, but he was forced into a dramatic policy U-turn last year when he faced the stark choice of signing up to a third bailout or the country being kicked out of the eurozone.
The strike comes as the government negotiates with Greece’s international debt inspectors, who returned to Athens this week to review progress on the country’s bailout obligations. The central Athens hotel where the inspectors were staying was heavily guarded by police.
As CBC reports, well over 20,000 supporters of a Communist party-backed union were marching through central Athens, while around 10,000 more people — including about 1,000 lawyers in suits and ties — were gathering for a separate demonstration. A heavy police presence was deployed in the capital, as previous protests have often degenerated into riots.
Unions are angry at pension reforms that are part of Greece’s third international bailout.
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