REUTERS, KATHIMERINI (Greece)
ATHENS – For the second time in three weeks, crowds are gathering in central Athens today for marches against a new wave of spending and pension cuts.
Trade union leaders says they hope to show EU leaders meeting in Brussels that a new round of austerity measures will only worsen the plight of the Greek people.
According to the Greek daily newspaper Kathimerini, the strikes are expected to disrupt public services, banks, schools, hospitals, airports, and disrupt public transportation, bringing much of the country to a standstill.
— Theodora Oikonomides (@IrateGreek) October 18, 2012
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ coalition government is holding delicate negotiations with Greece's "troika" of creditors -- the EU, IMF and European Central Bank. The country is preparing 11.5 billion euros of cuts to satisfy the troika and secure the next installment of its 130-billion-euro bailout.
"Just once, the government ought to reject the troika's absurd demands," Yannis Panagopoulos, head of the GSEE private sector union, told Reuters.
European Union leaders are meeting in Brussels for a two-day summit to try and bridge their differences over plans for a banking union, although no substantial decisions are expected, reviving concerns about complacency in tackling the debt crisis which exploded three years ago in Greece.
Greece is in its fifth consecutive year of recession and more than a quarter of its workforce is unemployed.