Massive Strike Shuts Greece

An estimated 50K protest in Athens
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2011 7:01 AM CDT
Demonstrators gather outside the Greek Parliament on Wednesday Oct. 19, 2011.   (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
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(Newser) – Workers across Greece walked off the job today for a crippling 48-hour general strike, closing shops, schools, courts, ports, and more. A host of flights were canceled—though mercifully airline workers shortened their strike to just 12 hours—and public transportation was functioning with a reduced staff, according to the AP. Hospitals, likewise, were running on a bare minimum staff, the Wall Street Journal reports. Protesters flooded the streets of Athens, with officials estimating a crowd of 50,000 downtown. "We just can't take it any more. There is desperation, anger, and bitterness," says a union chief.

At one point some protesters hurled uncollected garbage at police, but the rally was otherwise peaceful. Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki, also saw at least 15,000 protesters. The strikes are a protest against another round of tax hikes and spending cuts parliament will vote on tomorrow in an effort to ease Greece's debt woes and appease creditors. “We have reached the limits of our endurance and, what is worse, is that there is no ray of hope,” one union spokesman said. “These austerity policies have been a catastrophe for Greece.”

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