ATHENS (AP) — Civil servants in Greece walked off the job Wednesday in a 24-hour strike to protest austerity measures, demanding wage and pension increases as well as the abolition of all legislation as part of the country’s international bailouts.
The strike shut down local government, while workers at state-run hospitals also participated. More than 1,000 protesters marched through central Athens in two separate demonstrations.
To tackle a crippling financial crisis, successive governments from 2010 imposed big tax hikes and spending cuts, including on pensions and salaries, in return for billions of euros in emergency loans from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund.
“During all the years of the crisis the workers have lost more than 40 percent of their salaries. And the result is they can’t cover their basic needs anymore,” said Spyros Konstantas, head of the Attica regional administration workers’ union, as he called for salary increases.
“We demand and seek the coverage of everything we lost during the crisis.”
Greece saw its economy shrink by a quarter, while unemployment hit nearly 28 percent during the bailout years. The country’s third and final bailout officially ended in August.
“We’re seeking for them to give back all that they stole from us during the years of the bailouts,” said Argyri Erondokrytou, a 31-year-old doctor at a public hospital in Athens.
“It is a strike that demands from this government that its promises that we have exited the bailouts will not be only in words, but will also be in material things.”