Greeks Launch 48-Hour Strike Over New Cuts

Parliament votes tomorrow on bailout-linked austerity measures

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 6, 2012 6:32 AM CST

(Newser) – Greeks today launched a 48-hour general strike in protest of new spending cuts, with an estimated 2 million people—from lawyers to hospital employees—taking part. The union-organized strike has shut down banks, schools, and public transportation as Parliament prepares vote on the cuts tomorrow. It must support the austerity measures in order to continue receiving bailout money, and the measures appear likely to squeak through. But that's not exactly making legislators popular with protesters: "They should go to hell and beyond," says a 65-year-old pensioner.

"They should ask me how I feel when I have to go to church to beg for food. I wouldn't hurt a fly, but I would happily behead one of them." Officials say these are the last cuts that the country will have to endure, but Greeks may not believe it, Reuters notes. "We promised to avert the country's exit from the euro and this is what we are doing. We have given absolute priority to this, because if we do not achieve this, everything else will be meaningless," says Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. The three-party coalition's smallest party, the Democratic Left, has rejected the cuts, notes the BBC. Samaras needs 151 votes to pass the measure; he currently appears to have 154. But if any more members of the Socialist Pasok party abandon the plan, he could face trouble.

A woman walks past closed shops at the main commercial Athens' Ermou street on Tuesday Nov. 6, 2012.
A woman walks past closed shops at the main commercial Athens' Ermou street on Tuesday Nov. 6, 2012.   (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras speaks to his parliamentary group of lawmakers about the upcoming vote on the new round of austerity measures in Athens, Sun. Nov. 4 2012.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras speaks to his parliamentary group of lawmakers about the upcoming vote on the new round of austerity measures in Athens, Sun. Nov. 4 2012.   (AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis)
Protesters march to the Greek Parliament in Athens on Tuesday Nov. 6, 2012.
Protesters march to the Greek Parliament in Athens on Tuesday Nov. 6, 2012.   (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis)
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