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Greece Begins "Mother Of All Strikes"

BBC, GUARDIAN (UK), DIE WELT, FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINER ZEITUNG (Germany), LES ECHOS (France)

Worldcrunch

ATHENS – Greek unions are staging “the mother of all strikes” as Parliament votes on another round of budget cuts, writes the Guardian.

The bankrupt Greek government is facing a tough job: convince the Greek people that austerity measures are necessary. “This is the week of all the dangers,” says Les Echos.

The measures are necessary for the simple reason that without them, the government will not receive funds from the “troika” of institutions that are overseeing its spending: the European Central Bank, European Commission (the EU's governing body), and the International Monetary Fund, which have already provided tens of billions of euros in the past three years to fund Greece's payroll.

The troika says it will refuse to send further funds to Greece without proof of the country’s will to budget more prudently.

The Greek legislature must vote Wednesday evening whether or not to accept the austerity budget, which include cuts in pensions, holidays, the minimum wage, severance pay, and salaries for public workers, and make it easier for businesses to fire workers.

A loan of 31.5 billion euros is pending and Greece desperately needs it. A no vote and the subsequent inevitable exit of Greece from the euro zone would have grave ripple effects across the global economy.

To influence the vote, a two-day general strike, the third in six weeks according to Die Welt, was called across Greece this week, closing airports, schools, hospitals, and train stations nationwide.

Public transport workers, lawyers, air traffic controllers, taxi drivers, journalists and hospital staff are all on strike, says the BBC.

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Riot police guarding Parliament. Photo: Anthony Verias on Twitter

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who has been in office since June, has promised that these budget cuts “will be the last,” reports the BBC. Greece has little choice. The prime minister warns that without a yes vote, Greece will have to leave the euro zone and go bankrupt, with income nationwide falling by 80 %, says the Guardian.If the legislature votes no, the government will run out of money on November 12th.

The Greek population, however, is tired of austerity and continual budget cuts, which have hit the poor and the old especially hard. According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, unions say that the average pensioner will lose 2000 euros a year from these cuts alone.

The majority coalition is pledged to vote for the austerity package, but several political parties in Greece’s multi-party system plan to vote against it, including Syriza and the coalition partner Democratic Left, says the Guardian.

Even some members of the parties that officially accept the need for a fifth consecutive cut in the national budget, such as the socialist Pasok, are rebelling against their own parties’ stance in the face of popular fury.

A union leader said, “These measures must not pass! It is unacceptable that the people have to pay for funds that bankers are getting from the government,” reports Les Echos.

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