Greek unions call general strike for 26 September


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The Independent Online

Greece's largest labour unions has called a general strike for 26 September, responding to a major new government austerity package that is expected to worsen hardship in the recession-hit country.

The date of the 24-hour strike was decided today, a General Confederation of Greek Labor spokeswoman said, adding that the strike would be joined by a civil servants' union.

Rescue creditors are demanding that Greece's conservative-led government slashes a further € 11.5 billion ($14.8 billion) in budget costs over the next two years — resulting in a new round of wage and pension cuts that the country's three-month-old coalition government had promised to avoid.

Negotiations over the new cuts have been stalled by disagreements between the government and international debt inspectors over proposed new labor law concessions. The inspectors from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund — collectively known as the troika.

The leaders of three political parties are also at odds over the proposed changes, with two minority parties insisting that that they will not accept any public sector firings or further cuts to the minimum wage.

"One thing that has not been made sufficiently clear — and it would be good if the troika understands this — is that labor costs in Greece are already very low," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told private Mega television.

"This is a complex package ... Everything is up for negotiation."