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Society

Another General Strike Against Austerity Shuts Down Athens

May 30, 2018

ATHENS – With the tourism season beginning a boom expected to last all summer and bring another record year, visitors to Athens were met May 30 with an all-out strike against austerity although thousands of demonstrations, protests and job actions have done nothing to make successive governments stop the measures.

This one was against more pension cuts and taxes on low-and-middle income families that will be imposed by the Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who has repeatedly reneged on promises to reverse pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions, the sale of Greek assets, restore the minimum wage and not dilute workers rights.

The strikes and protests go on regularly and are ignored by the government, which includes the now pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) of Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who also broke his word to help workers, pensioners and the poor.

Tsipras agreed to more brutal conditions that will start in 2019, a little more than four months after three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($377.97 billion) expire on Aug. 20, leaving Greece to the mercy of the markets.

With tourists packing the nation’s capital from the Evzone-changing ceremony outside Parliament in Syntagma Square to the souvenir heaven of Plaka and gritty, funky areas like Gazi and Psirri and the usual hallmarks like the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum, some lights were grounded, ships were unable to sail and public transport was disrupted in the strike called by the country’s largest labor unions, the private sector union GSEE and its public sector counterpart ADEDY.

Striking workers, pensioners and students were expected to march through central Athens as part the routine the government won’t watch.

“The government, which implements the same policies that have destroyed the people and the economy, is loading the back of workers and pensioners with new unbearable measures,” GSEE said in a statement.

Greece’s largest carrier Aegean and Olympic Air cancelled three return flights and rescheduled 50 flight legs. Journalists at also walked off the job, cancelling news reports while buses and trolleys were operating on reduced hours and air traffic controllers were due to stage a walkout.

Workers warned of more protests although none have worked yet. “For workers, pensioners and the unemployed, the end of the bailout in August 2018 is not an automated process which will bring prosperity, but the beginning of new struggles,” the dockworkers’ union which also joined the walkout said in a statement.

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