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May 18, 2022

Greece general strike marked by violent protests

The action in Greece follows a series of demonstrations in Spain and Portugal, which are also facing stringent austerity measures.

Greek police have fired tear gas to disperse anarchists throwing petrol bombs near Athens’ parliament on a day-long strike against austerity measures, the BBC reports. Clashes erupted during the first trade union-led action since a conservative-led coalition came to power in June. The protest is against planned spending cuts of 11.5bn euros. The savings are a pre-condition to Greece receiving its next tranche of bailout funds, without which the country could face bankruptcy in weeks. An estimated 50,000 people have joined the protests. A march past parliament turned violent as anarchists wearing black balaclavas and carrying sticks threw petrol bombs and broken bits of concrete at riot police on Syntagma Square. Wednesday’s general strike has brought the whole country to a standstill, adds our correspondent, with doctors, teachers, tax workers, ferry operators and air traffic controllers all joining the protest. On Tuesday the Greek finance minister, Yannis Stournaras, put a price on that delay for the first time – saying it would in effect cost as much as 15bn euros.Workers from a diverse range of sectors took part in the strike, from doctors to air traffic controllers. Banks and historic sites in Athens remained shut on Wednesday, with many shopkeepers expected to close up early so they could attend demonstrations. Schools and government services were also closing down, though buses were still running, reportedly to help ferry people to the protests. The strike was called by the country’s two biggest unions, which between them represent half the workforce. Thousands of police have been deployed in the centre of Athens. The action in Greece follows a series of demonstrations in Spain and Portugal, which are also facing stringent austerity measures.On Tuesday, police in Madrid fired rubber bullets during clashes with protesters outside parliament. 38 people were arrested and 64 injured The Bank of Spain said the country’s recession was deepening at a “significant pace”. Madrid is expected to announce further austerity measures today.

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