SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

The World

February 23, 2011

Greek strike disrupts flights, cripples services

ATHENS, Greece — A general strike halted public transportation across Greece on Wednesday and led to the cancellation of more than 100 flights at Athens International Airport, as unions stepped up opposition to the country's austerity measures.

More than 30,000 protesters chanting "Don't obey the rich — Fight back!" marched to parliament as the city center was heavily policed. A brass band, tractors and cyclists joined one of two main rallies, by a Communist-backed union.

State hospital doctors, ambulance drivers, pharmacists, lawyers and tax collectors also joined school teachers, journalists and thousands of small businesses in the 24-hour strike as more middle-class groups took part in the protest than have in the past. Athens' main shopping district was mostly empty, as many small business owners shuttered their stores.

This year's first major labor protest in Greece began as Prime Minister George Papandreou's Socialist government faces international pressure to make more lasting cuts after the nation's debt-crippled economy was rescued from bankruptcy by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The government urged protest organizers to prevent potentially violent groups from blending in with peaceful protesters — a common problem for Greek police at large rallies.

"Those who organize rallies must also police them. Everyone has the right to express their views in protest but it must be peaceful ... It will be a crucial day," Public Order Minister Christos Papoutsis said.

The strike halted trains, ferries and most public transport across the country, and idled many airlines at the international airport.

"For us workers, even though the legislation (for austerity measures) has passed, they are not a part of our lives. We have not accepted them," striking postal worker Dimitris Katsantonis said while standing outside a closed central Athens post office.

Unions are angry at ongoing austerity measures put in place by the Socialist government in exchange for a €110 billion ($150 billion) bailout loan package from European countries and the IMF.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
The World

AP Video
Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 U.N. School in Gaza Hit by Israeli Strike Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Today in History for July 24th Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Raw: Rescue Workers at Taiwan Plane Crash Site Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: MH17 Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
NDN Video
Bill Murray Continues To Be Just Bill Murray By Eating Some Free Bill Murray Ice Cream Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Hillary Clinton Blamed Bill's Affair With Monica Lewinsky On Abuse He Suffered As A Child 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl