Unions stage walkouts

Greek unions on Wednesday were to stage walkouts and a protest, part of a Europe-wide mobilisation, hours after fresh budget cuts linked to a new eurozone bailout were approved by a wide parliamentary majority. The main labour groups, private-sector GSEE and public-sector ADEDY, have called a nationwide three-hour work stoppage from midday and a demonstration in central Athens in the evening. The mobilisation is part of a day of action by European labour organisations against austerity measures enacted in Greece and other struggling eurozone economies to address a debt crisis plaguing the single currency area. "Unions in Greece will once more unite their voice with those in Europe against neoliberal policies, demanding an equitable and fairer Europe,» GSEE and ADEDY said. Municipal workers are also to occupy town halls around the country for the duration of the walkout, their own union said. Separately, doctors are holding a one-day strike against health spending cuts included in a new austerity bill that will be voted on Wednesday evening. Greece's official creditors, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, have demanded additional budget cuts to address deficit slippage before releasing a new bailout of 130 billion euros for crisis-hit Athens. The latest rescue, after a 110-billion-euro EU-IMF loan in 2010, is tied to a massive debt writedown with private creditors designed to reduce Greece's 350-billion-euro debt by 107 billion. [AFP]

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