Day of rage in Greece as more stringent cuts loom

With wages, pensions and healthcare under threat, protesters flood the streets of Athens

Athens

Police fired stun grenades and tear gas at protesters yesterday as tens of thousands poured into the streets of Athens as part of a nationwide strike to challenge a new round of austerity measures that are expected to cut wages, pensions and healthcare once again.

Dozens of youths, some masking their faces with helmets and T-shirts, hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks at police who fired back in an effort to scatter the angry crowds around the parliament building. More than 50,000 people are believed to have participated in the mass walk-out in Athens alone.

Hospital doctors, pensioners, teachers and shopkeepers were among the demonstrators that participated in over 60 rallies throughout the debt-ridden country. Even the president of Greece's police officers participated in the trade union march in Athens alongside uniformed colleagues from the fire department and coastguard.

"We don't owe [money] to anyone, bring back what's stolen," was one of the chants that could be heard in Athens, echoing the violent resentment of many Greeks against politicians and their purported embroilment in tax evasion and corruption scandals.

Evangelos Meimarakis, the Parliament Speaker and previous conservative New Democracy minister, temporarily suspended his duties earlier this week after allegations of money laundering. The Finance Ministry's Fraud squad is investigating at least 30 politicians and public workers for possible corruption charges, including two other former conservative ministers. All three former ministers deny the accusations.

Meanwhile, the government has been negotiating with its political allies and international lenders to hammer out a minimum of €11.6bn (£9.2bn) worth of cuts mainly drawn from pensions and wages. Cuts in healthcare and defence are also planned. But delays in agreeing over the exact nature of the cuts is holding up the disbursement of a critical €31.5bn (£25bn) loan instalment that will help Greece stay afloat and inject cash into the economy.

A Finance Ministry official told The Independent that €23.5bn (£18.7bn) of the anticipated tranche has been earmarked to recapitalise banks that have been unable to approve loans, paralysing the system. Part of the rest will also be used to repay some of the state's debt to private contractors and other organisations.

Giorgos Loukas, a former electrician, said austerity measures had reduced his monthly pension from €1,100 (£875) to €750 (£600) . "We're being stripped of everything we have," the 66-year old said. Both his wife and daughter are unemployed, and all three survive on his income. "Where is European solidarity? We're being insulted as a nation but I will never beg at soup-kitchens for food – my dignity is all I have left."

Greece has been told to implement a succession of spending cuts and structural reforms in an effort to bring down its massive debt in exchange a bailout of nearly €200bn (£160bn). But many experts warn that the measures are only making the recession deeper. One in two youths is out of a job while thousands of educated and skilled professionals are fleeing the country in search of opportunities abroad.

"I feel my country is on auction and we're just an economic experiment," said Dimitris Palles, 49, a physics researcher at the National Hellenic Research Foundation. Mr Palles, 49, who's seen his annual salary drop from €24,000 (£19,000) to €19,500 (£15,500). "No level of political mismanagement can justify the pain we're being asked to endure," he says.

Greece's international creditors were also reported to be loggerheads yesterday over how to solve Athens' debt crisis, as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) demanded that European governments write off some of the Greek debt they hold. According to Reuters, tensions between Greece and the "troika" of European Union, European Central Bank and IMF have escalated as the IMF pushes to restructure Greek debts to public-sector foreign creditors, whereas EU leaders would rather give Athens more time to meet the demands of its bailout.

Public healthcare is one of the sectors that has been gravely affected by the crisis in Greece. Chemists and pharmaceutical companies have stopped giving drugs on credit to medical insurers saying they haven't been paid in months by the state.

Meanwhile, Greece's power company cut the electricity at a kidney hospital on the island of Aegina for several hours on Tuesday while the patients were undergoing blood dialysis, forcing the centre to rely on its generator.

ECONOMY FEARS SEND SPAIN'S RATES SOARING

Concern about the Spanish economy drove a sharp rise in the interest rates that investors charge to lend money to Madrid yesterday, increasing fears that eurozone crisis was worsening

The yield on the country's 10-year bonds topped 6 per cent for the first time since early this month, reviving speculation that Madrid would have to seek a national bailout from its European partners.

The high rates come in a crucial week for the Spanish economy, with the government due to unveil its draft budget for 2013 today, and an audit of Spain's banks expected to reveal how much money will be needed to prop up the country's ailing lenders on Friday.

Suggested Topics
Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil