Greek general strike to disrupt flights, transport Thursday

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The Independent Online

Dozens of flights through Greece will be disrupted on Thursday by a general strike against pension reform that will also paralyse other forms of transport and public services, officials said.

The strike is the sixth this year against a broad austerity policy imposed by the Socialist government as it struggles to deal with a debt crisis that pushed the country to the brink of insolvency in May.

Greece's main flight operators Olympic Air and Aegean will ground 34 flights and reschedule another 45, including several international destinations, the companies said.

A four-hour work stoppage from 0700 GMT by air traffic controllers will also affect other carriers.

"Nothing will fly during that four-hour period," a spokeswoman at Athens International Airport told AFP.

Ports will be closed, trains will be halted and urban transport in Athens will come to a standstill from the labour mobilisation which will also shut down banks, post offices and public services.

Hospitals will operate solely for emergencies and no news broadcasts will be made as journalists have joined the action.

The country's main unions called the strike to coincide with a vote in parliament on a controversial reform slashing pension payments and raising the general retirement age to 65 for men and women for the first time.

Greece was forced to adopt unprecedented wage and pension cuts to clinch a 110-billion-euro (139-billion-euro) bailout loan from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund and save itself from a damaging debt default.

The government this week reported positive news on its efforts to cut the budget deficit but the economy is gripped in a deepening recession and is not expected to bounce back for at least another year.