Greek strikes greet debt inspectors

 

Strikes and demonstrations over government cuts hit Athens today as international debt inspectors returned to continue examining the reforms.

Officials from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, which are lending money to Greece to keep it from bankruptcy, are expected to press the government for faster cost-cutting reforms.

Greece's continued access to bailout loans depends not only on delivery on its austerity promises but also on negotiations with private creditors on a bond swap deal aiming to cut its debt.

It needs to get an agreement soon if it is to secure more rescue loans, with a bond repayment due in late March.

Around 10,000 people took part in rallies in central Athens over potential pay cuts in the recession-battered private sector. Strikes disrupted public transport and other services. Journalist unions also began a 48-hour walkout.

Under government pressure, unions and employers are due to launch talks to explore ways of slashing labour costs.

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