After nearly three years of repeated income cuts and tax hikes, Greeks have little stomach for more. On Monday, doctors launched a three-day strike that will leave state hospitals functioning on emergency staff, while taxi-drivers started rolling 24-hour strikes. There were no news broadcasts and newspapers will not be published Tuesday due to a journalists’ strike, while Athens urban rail and tram drivers walked off the job.
During the general strike Tuesday and Wednesday, schools, tax offices and public administration will shut down, while there will be no train or ferry services across the country. Flights will be disrupted for three hours Tuesday.
FYI: The rest of the article is scare-mongering nonsense.
Portugal protests erupt over austerity measures
September 29, 2012
Thousands of Portuguese protested on Saturday against austerity, stepping up their opposition to the country’s 78-billion-euro bailout ahead of new spending cuts and tax hikes to be announced in the government’s 2013 draft budget.
The peaceful protest organized by the CGTP union came after the center-right government ignited widespread anger this month with a hike in social security taxes that threatened to end Portugal’s so far high social acceptance for austerity.
Facing criticism from unions, opposition politicians and businesses alike, the government reversed the tax hike. But it is now rushing to find alternative measures to adopt in its 2013 budget to ensure the country meets fiscal goals under its bailout from the European Union, European Central Bank and IMF, the so-called troika.
Protesters marched through downtown Lisbon, shouting “Let the fight continue” and carried banners reading “Go to hell Troika, we want our lives back.”
“A year ago the prime minister told us the solution to the country’s problems was the agreement with the troika,” shouted CGTP head Armenio Carlos in a speech.
“But we have already seen this film in Greece, this is a road without an exit, pushing us toward the precipice,” Carlos told the marchers that crowded into Lisbon’s main Praca de Comercio square on the banks of the Tagus River.
The protest in Portugal came after a week of similar anti-austerity marches in Greece, Spain and Italy as southern Europeans face increasingly grim economic conditions under hardship sparked by the euro debt crisis.
Carlos said the protest was one of the largest organized by the CGTP, Portugal’s biggest union, in recent years but he gave no figure of the number of people present. Praca de Comercio square has a capacity of about 100,000 people but it was not completely full on Saturday.
The protests were smaller than nationwide marches on September 15, immediately after the tax hike was announced, which prompted an estimated 500,000 people to take to the streets.
Portugal’s unemployment rate has hit record levels above 15 percent as the country descended this year into its worst recession since the 1970s under the weight of spending cuts and tax hikes.
Anger by the Portuguese at austerity is likely to rise further as the government now expects the recession to extend into next year with few signs of economic growth emerging from the bailout plan.
The government has to present its 2013 budget by the middle of October.
In a departure from other mass protests, members of the police force, army, navy and judicial system joined public and private sector employees on the streets. One police officer, who preferred not to give his name, said the Greek state “should feel deep shame” at imposing cuts on the very people whose protection it sought.
Hundreds of thousands of Greeks march against austerity
Since the outbreak of Europe’s debt crisis in Athens in late 2009, ordinary Greeks, worst hit by repeated rounds of austerity, have seen their purchasing power drop by as much as 50% as poverty and joblessness has reached record levels.
After a heated summer of tortuous wrangling with lenders, the alliance led by the prime minister, Antonis Samaras, is expected to finally give the package the go-ahead on Thursday. Time is of the essence, say officials, if the Greek economy is to receive a bumper rescue loan of €31.5bn, put on hold by the troika since July. The injection is now vital to “warming up” the cash-starved real economy. Creditors have made clear that without the controversial measures, there can be no money – a scenario that would see Greece defaulting on its debt, being forced to declare bankruptcy and leaving the eurozone.
“The cuts have to happen because we are at war, an economic war,” the country’s defence minister, Panos Panagiotopoulos, said this week.
Once endorsed, the package will be sent to the parliament for ratification, probably next week. But the government’s highwire act of trying to placate lenders while ensuring that the nation is not pushed over the edge will not be easy. Polls have shown the vast majority of Greeks see the measures as deeply unfair and antisocial. Highlighting fears that the recession-inducing policies have pushed Greece into an economic death spiral, the ratings agency Fitch declared on Wednesday that far from being reduced, Athens’s debt mountain was growing, with the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio set to increase from its current 164.9% to 180.2% in 2014.
“Once the Greek people learn exactly what the measures are there will be uproar,” Iliopoulos, the trade unionist, told the Guardian. “Parliament will see mass protests. And it won’t be nice.”
Greek workers have begun their first mass confrontation with Greece’s three-month old coalition government, grounding flights, disrupting local transport and shutting public service offices.
The general strike is being backed by the General Confederation of Greek workers (GSEE), the country’s biggest private sector force, the union of civil servants, ADEDY, and militant unionists attached to the KKE communist party.
All three groups are holding hold mass demonstrations in Athens – and some 65 cities and major towns nationwide – before protesters march on the Greek parliament.
“We call on everyone to take part in the strike and resist the austerity measures that hurt Greek people and the economy,” said unionist Despina Spanou of ADEDY. “This strike is only the beginning in our fight.”
ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek police fired teargas at protesters throwing stones and petrol bombs in Athens on Wednesday, as at least 50,000 striking workers marched to parliament in the country’s biggest anti-austerity rally in months.
The political declaration with which this historical protest ended in the Praça de Espanha (Spain Square) was clear and unequivocal: first, end the troika memorandum; second, the government must resign (rejecting any other governmental solution which continues to implement the austerity regime); and third, it appeals for a popular general strike, organised not only by unions but by social movements and people in neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, faculties, hospitals and townships, to stop the country and demonstrate that only labour, knowledge and citizen participation can build a country.
Portugal: the spell is broken | Counterfire
Yo, this is amazing …
Greek police protesting against austerity cuts blocked the entrance to the riot police headquarters on Thursday, preventing buses carrying riot police from leaving for the site of major demonstrations this weekend.
Scuffles broke out as riot police tried to clear the entrance of several dozen police union members - many in uniform - chanting anti-austerity slogans and holding banners.
"They would not let riot police buses depart for Thessaloniki," a police official said, referring to the northern city hosting a weekend trade fair where anti-austerity demonstrations are planned.
Some riot police appeared reluctant to tackle uniformed officers. “They make us fight against our own brothers,” said one riot policeman who declined to be named.
The government plans to slash police pay in a new round of spending cuts worth nearly 12 billion euros over the next two years. The savings plan is expected to provoke new street protests in the coming weeks by austerity-weary Greeks fed up with repeated wage and pension cuts.
Police, firefighters and coast guard officers plan to hold a separate protest later on Thursday in central Athens.
Sofia Tipaldou reports from the front lines of Spain’s general strike
[Thursday] 80 demonstrations have taken place across the country
The battle in Spain against the government’s austerity measures continues with a new series of massive protests. With the miners’ mobilisation still fresh in people’s minds they have taken over the streets again today saying no to government policies. More than 80 demonstrations have taken place across the country under the banner ‘They want to destroy the country. We have to prevent it, we are the majority’.
As if the already introduced austerity measures were not enough, Mariano Rajoy’s government announced new ones on July 11th. It aims to take a further €65.000 million from the budget in the next two and a half years.
The measures include a VAT increase of 3 percent (from 18 percent to 21 percent). In the public sector, the second extra wages payment (Christmas pay) will be suspended and the number of free-disposal days will be reduced. Unemployment subsidies will be reduced up to 6 percent from the sixth month on the dole (unemployment subsidies last a total of 24 months) and a big number of bonuses for employing new workers will be reduced.
Social insurance contributions paid by employers are going to be reduced by 1 percent in 2013 and another 1 percent in 2014. State subsidies for political parties, labor unions, and business associations will decrease by 20 percent. Finally, rail, port and airport transportation is going to be privatized.
According to the labor unions, the new austerity measures constitute an unprecedented aggression that aggravates the recession’s effects, creates higher unemployment, and infringes people’s constitutional rights. It seems that, in order to save the banks, the Spanish government is forcing sacrifices on the most disadvantaged.
This time, the cuts affect the unemployed, the public servants, and the whole population through the VAT increase. And this, after a labour reform that makes dismissal cheaper, the increases the price of medicines, increases university fees, and makes massive cuts in the public health and education. The labour unions have called today’s demonstration in response, in order to protest against these ‘reforms’.
At the same time, various civil society associations are calling for a consumer’s boycott, meaning an abstention from any means of generating money, i.e. making purchases and bank transfers, consuming energy and fuelling their cars. [++]