Page last updated at 14:57 GMT, Thursday, 4 February 2010

Greek officials strike over cuts


Greek tax officials demonstrate against cuts in Athens<p

Customs officials and tax inspectors in Greece are holding a two-day strike to protest against government austerity measures, including wage cuts.

The strike is disrupting Greece's import market, with lines of trucks being held at the country's borders.

The austerity measures have been introduced to try and tackle Greece's huge budget deficit and national debt.

The EU approved the plan on Wednesday, but insisted on inspecting Greece's notoriously unreliable accounts.

Part of the government's plan relies on tax collectors recovering billions of euros lost to tax evasion.

The BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Athens says the tax inspectors are the most feared people in Greece, with the power to descend on any business without warning and go through the books.

They have a vital role in Greece's economic recovery, which is contingent on clawing back as much tax as possible, adds our correspondent.

Threat to euro

On Tuesday, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced a public sector salary freeze, a higher retirement age and a hike in petrol prices.

Ioannis Lessis
Greece has been the black sheep of Europe. We need to change

Other measures already announced include the non-replacement of departing civil servants and the tax crackdown.

Greece is one of several EU countries struggling with a gaping deficit and heavy debt, preventing them from spending their way out of recession.

Greece's deficit is, at 12.7%, more than four times higher than eurozone rules allow. Its debt is about 300bn euros ($419bn, £259bn).

The possibility of Greece or one of the other stricken countries being unable to pay its debts - and either needing an EU bailout or being forced to abandon the euro - has been called the biggest threat yet to the single currency.

But union members complain that the Greek government has bowed to the markets and pressure from the EU.

Farmers have already been protesting for weeks, demanding more government assistance.

Civil servants are planning a strike next week and the country's biggest union, GSEE, voted on Thursday to hold a mass walk-out on 24 February.

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Times Online Greeks dont care for cuts - 13 hrs ago
AFP via Yahoo! Greece faces barrage of strikes over austerity package - 16 hrs ago Greece faces mass strikes over austerity plan - 20 hrs ago Greeks must fight the neoliberal EU | Costas Douzinas - 22 hrs ago
France24 Greece faces strike barrage over austerity cuts - 23 hrs ago

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