2 May 2013

May Day protests in Greece

2:24 pm on 2 May 2013

Trade unions in Greece held a day of protests on 1 May, international workers' day.

A 24 hour strike officially began at midnight. Trains and ferries were at a standstill and hospitals were working with reduced staff.

Organisers demanded an end to spending cuts and tax rises, which the government says are needed to lead Greece out of six years of recession and ensure more bailout funds from international creditors.

But a BBC reporter said the protests were the smallest for months - a few thousand in size.

Many shops stayed open as the Labour Day public holiday has been moved to next Tuesday - after Greek Orthodox Easter.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has defended his policies, insisting that this year of recession will be the country's last.

Nearly €3 billion of bailout money were approved this week, with another €6 billion set to come on 13 May.

Since 2010, the European Union and the IMF have promised more than €200 billion in lending for Greece.

The BBC says talk of exit from the eurozone has receded and there is a feeling the civil unrest is beginning to die down.