As Default Looms, Strike Paralyzes Greece

'We've lost everything,' says striker as thousands protest austerity measures
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2011 6:54 AM CDT
Updated Oct 5, 2011 7:56 AM CDT
As Default Looms, Strike Paralyzes Greece
A man walks by an empty central suburban train station in Athens this morning.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – The biggest strike in months has brought Greece to a standstill and tens of thousands of workers are taking to the streets of Athens. The strike, organized by the country's two biggest unions, is in response to the tough austerity measures unveiled earlier this week, reports the Los Angeles Times. Flights have been grounded, schools and government offices have been closed, and health services are operating at reduced staff levels.

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The austerity measures are intended to help Greece hit deficit-reduction targets included as a condition of bailout loans. Without the cash, Greece could end up defaulting on its massive debt, potentially causing another financial crisis. Polls show that nearly 80% of Greeks expect their country to default within months. "I don't care if we go bankrupt. We are already bankrupt. It's just a matter of the state realizing it," a striking engineer in central Athens tells Reuters. "We've lost everything." (Read more austerity stories.)

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