Thousands protest against Greek government's austerity measures
Greece has instituted a series of painful tax hikes, wage cuts and financial reforms in an effort to put its house in order
Wednesday 01 May 2013
Thousands have descended on Athens as Greece went on general strike in protest at the government's austerity policies. Ferries were confined to port, trains were halted and public transport in various cities was disrupted. Hospitals were running on skeleton staff while archaeological sites and museums remained shut.
“May Day is a very important day for the working class, not only as a remembrance day ... but [so] workers can regain the rights we've lost for so many years,” one protester said.
In exchange for €200bn (£170bn) of loans from the EU and the International Monetary Fund, Greece has instituted a series of painful tax hikes, wage cuts and financial reforms in an effort to put its house in order. But the measures proscribed by its lenders have pushed unemployment to 27.2 per cent - Europe's highest - and the country is now battling its fifth year of recession.
Pope Francis has weighed in to the austerity debate, urging governments to focus on job creation. “I call on politicians to make every effort to relaunch the labour market,” he told crowds in St Peter's Square. “Work is fundamental for dignity... I think of people, not just young people, who are unemployed often because of an economic conception of society based on selfish profit outside the bounds of social justice.”
Despite the growing desperation in Greece, the size of street protesters has dwindled. Organisers blamed the low turnout on the heat (the temperature in Athens topped 30C) and claimed a sense of resignation is now supplanting the anger. “We're taking hits from everywhere: our rights, our wages, taxation... It's all created a mood of abstention,” public sector union leader Kostas Tsikrikas told The Independent. “Greeks are tired. For three years we're in the streets yet no elections or politician have changed anything. but we'll continue to fight.”
Despite anger at his policies, Prime Minister Giorgios Samaras has achieved Greece's first primary budget surplus in more than 10 years. Yet his poll rating has continued to suffer, while the far-right Golden Dawn party has solidified its position as Greece's third-biggest party. In a latest move to garner support, Golden Dawn officials plan today to hand out food to Greeks only at Athens's Syntagma Square. Despite the city's mayor condemning the plan as “a gesture of intolerance and fascism”, Golden Dawn insisted it planned to go ahead with the soup kitchen, saying: “Greece is still a democracy and no one can deny us of the right to assemble.”
- 2 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 3 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
Nepal earthquake: More than 1,100 killed across four countries and in Mount Everest avalanche
Nepal earthquake: The race is on to help thousands trapped under rubble around Kathmandu, while remote villages face a long wait for help
Royal baby: Live updates as superbug closes ward at St Mary's Hospital where Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth
Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...