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Greece is being hit by the first general strike of 2013 as workers renew their protest over austerity measures. The 24-hour strike is forcing the closure of schools and state-run offices and leaving hospitals working with emergency staff, BBC reports.The strike has been called by Greece’s two biggest labour unions, representing half the four million-strong workforce.It comes days before international lenders are due in Athens to discuss the next instalment of a bailout. The debt-ridden country is being kept afloat by billions of euros from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund.In return, the government has imposed waves of unpopular spending cuts and tax rises, hitting pay and pensions and sending unemployment soaring to more than 26%.Strikes and violent protests have become commonplace. Greece’s coalition government managed to secure the latest tranche of bailout money at the end of last year, and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told the BBC he believed the worst was over for his country.However, the BBC’s Athens correspondent Mark Lowen says that Wednesday’s strike is a reminder that government confidence of a slowly improving economic situation is not shared by many on the streets.Union leaders say they are angry at the job cuts and tax rises being demanded by Greece’s international lenders.“The (strike) is our answer to the dead-end policies that have squeezed the life out of workers, impoverished society and plunged the economy into recession and crisis,” the private sector union GSEE said in a statement. “Our struggle will continue for as long as these policies are implemented,” it said. The union is organising the walkout with public sector union Adedy.Several marches are due to culminate in protests outside parliament in Syntagma square, Athens, where violent clashes have broken out on previous occasions.Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s eight-month-old government has taken a tough line on strikers, invoking emergency law twice this year to order seamen and metro staff back to work. But despite such measures, strikes have recently picked up.A one-day visit by French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday went largely unreported because Greek journalists downed tools.