Greece Paralyzed By Strike

Greece is voting with its feet against austerity with a 48 hour general strike that will contribute further to the country's problems.

Aryeh Ben Hayim , | updated: 12:02 AM

Acropolis of Athens
Acropolis of Athens


The European Union may have persuaded the Greek political class that they have no option but loans in return for austerity but they have not persuaded the Greek people.

Greece is in the grip of a 48 hour general strike that will only further exacerbate the country's economic woes.Tens of thousands of protesters occupied the streets of several Greek cities, and staged two marches on the parliament in Athens. Five thousand riot police were on hand at Athens to meet the demonstrators.

The unions claim that the victims of austerity measures were minimum and low wage earners, who were lucky enough to have jobs in a country where unemployment has reached 16 percent.

Another 7,000 demonstrators marched in northern Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city.

The strike wasn't limited to workers as doctors, ambulance drivers, journalists, and even actors joined in bringing public services to a halt. The strike by public transport workers has resulted in paralyzing traffic gridlock.

Tourism, that accounts for 20% of Greek income, was hit as members of the Communist Party-affiliated union PAME prevented travelers from boarding ships at Piraeus, Greece's largest port. The tourists had counted on a voyage to the fabled Greek islands.

Air passengers were relatively more fortunate as traffic controllers contented themselves with two four-hour stoppages -- from 8 a.m. to noon on Tuesday and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday.

Greek tourism has already been hit by the continuing turmoil, declining by nearly 21 per cent in the first quarter of the year against the corresponding period in 2010.