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Greek Airports Close due to Strike

Greek Strike (March 2010)On Tuesday, a 48-hour strike called by Greece’s trade unions was kicked off to protest austerity measures. This has meant that holidaymakers in or planning to visit the country are in for travel misery, as the strike has affected all kinds of travel, including flights, ferries and trains.

Air traffic controllers were due to take 4 hours of industrial action in the morning and 4 hours in the evening of both days. This has meant that planes have been grounded and flights delayed and cancelled. Some airports even closed for the duration, while others remained open for some services to be operated. Travellers also weren’t going to have much luck with ferry services. The Piraeus port in Athens was due to shut down while other ports were reported to stay open. Visitors will also find minimal to no services available on trains and buses. This has made it very hard for some holidaymakers to enjoy their time off.

It’s very possible that travellers staying in the capital will witness heavy protests, as tens of thousands of Greek citizens are due to participate in the general strike. Aside from travel disruptions, the 48-hour strike has shut down government offices and state-owned banks. Several thousands of union members marched through Athens before gathering outside parliament, yelling for the end of plutocracy. Many banners were being hung and carried throughout the city with them. Later, riot police arrived to break up the protest, firing teargas into groups of extremists who became violent by smashing shopfronts and setting fire to rubbish bins in the streets.

They are taking to the streets in protest of €28 billion in austerity measures. These have been deeply unpopular among the public since Prime Minister George Papandreou and his government announced them. On Monday, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told parliament that the government will achieve another €600 million in spending cuts and revenue increases this year. However, he didn’t give out any details.

Parliament was due to continue the debate on the controversial 4-year economic plan on Tuesday. The economic package was agreed on with international lenders and is aimed at preventing the nation from defaulting on its sovereign debt. Greece is stuck in the worst recession its had since the ’70s. It has a youth unemployment rate of over 40%, and public finances have been blighted by a debt equivalent to about 150% of gross domestic product.

The prime minister has called for deputies to back the package, saying that it will guarantee the state is operated smoothly in the immediate future, as well as given security for upcoming years. Senior ministers of the cabinet have increased pressure on socialist deputies, who have slammed the package, in hopes of ensuring a clear majority without needing deputies from conservative splinter groups to vote in favour. One official said that it will be even harder to introduce the measure if they have to rely on outsiders to approve the package.

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