Thousands in Greek anti-austerity protests as reform talks stall
Thousands of Greeks were protesting against a new bout of austerity on Thursday in a general strike as the government failed to break a deadlock with the country`s international creditors.
Athens: Thousands of Greeks were protesting against a new bout of austerity on Thursday in a general strike as the government failed to break a deadlock with the country`s international creditors.
Air and ferry traffic was disrupted and hospitals, schools, shops and banks were also hit by the walkout.
Some 18,000 people were marching in Athens, police said, ahead of similar protests in Thessaloniki and other main cities.
"For the past six years Greek society is suffering and is strangulated economically from the measures taken by the government and our European counterparts," said protester Xanthi Karadima.
"People can`t take it any longer, the quality of life is unacceptable," she said.
There are currently over 1.2 million registered unemployed in Greece, or almost 26 percent of the workforce.
"The only thing we do is pay taxes, taxes, taxes and taxes," said protester Skevos Halkitis.
The 24-hour walkout came a day after crucial talks between Greece and its EU-IMF creditors failed to break a deadlock on the country`s planned budget and reform agenda for 2015.
"We are responding to the dogmatic insistence of the government and (the creditors) for further austerity policies and tax raids," the main Greek union GSEE said.
Greece`s budget for 2015 has failed to win the approval of the so-called troika of international creditors -- the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.
The troika estimates that Greece must save between two and three billion euros ($2.5-billion 3.7 billion) in 2015 to meet its primary surplus target of 3.0 percent of economic output.
But the Greek government sees this figure as excessively high.
Other contentious issues include structural reforms including union rights and social insurance as the government faces popular pressure ahead of elections likely to be held next year.
"There was no overall agreement but progress was made on several topics," a finance ministry source told AFP on Wednesday.
Greece had hoped to conclude the creditor talks before the end of the year but this now seems unlikely.
Greece is set to receive another 1.8 billion euros from the EU by December.
Another 12.6 billion euros remain to be disbursed by the IMF by 2016.