6 Nov 2012

General strike begins over more cuts in Greece

10:02 pm on 6 November 2012

A 48-hour general strike across public and private sectors in Greece has begun in protest at a proposed new wave of spending cuts.

Protest marches are planned for central Athens. The action coincides with a debate in parliament on the austerity measures including tax rises, spending cuts and structural reforms, with a vote by MPs due on Wednesday.

Greece must back the measures, and the 2013 budget, to receive the next part of a bailout and avoid bankruptcy, the BBC reports.

The latest strike beginning on Tuesday includes public transport workers, lawyers, air traffic controllers, taxi drivers, journalists and hospital staff.

Ministers say the package should save a total of €13.5 billion by 2016.

Approving the tough reforms and passing the budget are key to receiving a €31.5 billion instalment from the International Monetary Fund and European Union that has been on hold for months.

However, the Democratic Left Party, the junior member of the three-party governing coalition, is refusing to support the package. The second biggest coalition party, the socialist Pasok, is also facing a rebellion by some MPs.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has tried to reassure the public, who have endured repeated rounds of austerity and a five-year recession.

"These will be the last cuts in wages and pensions," he said on Sunday.

Without the bailoutmoney, Greece would be unable to meet its obligations and would go bankrupt.