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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 19:18 GMT
Greece paralysed by strike action
By Richard Galpin
BBC News, Athens

Couriers on strike in Athens
Delivery couriers joined the industrial action in Athens
Trade union leaders in Greece say a 24-hour general strike called by the main public and private sector unions has been a success.

There was widespread disruption to transport and public services across Greece on Wednesday.

The unions called the strike as part of an escalating campaign of action over the conservative government's attempts to reform the economy.

Athens, where almost half the country's population lives, was the hardest hit.

Almost all forms of public transport were left at a standstill throughout the day, causing massive traffic jams across the city.

Discontent

Government offices, banks, hospitals and schools were also affected, as were flights on state-run Olympic Airlines.

In Athens and other cities, thousands of workers took to the streets, holding rallies and marching to government buildings demanding an end to the government's economic reform programme.

There is real discontent amongst the workforce at low wages and high prices. Union officials say the minimum wage in Greece is half the European Union average.

There is also concern about plans to privatise state-run enterprises, given the already high level of unemployment.

But the government is under pressure from the European Commission to cut the budget deficit, which is way above the limit set for countries using the euro as their currency. It also wants to increase the competitiveness of the Greek economy.


SEE ALSO:
Greek unions call general strike
21 Jun 05 |  Business
Greece fully ratifies EU treaty
12 May 05 |  Europe


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