Strikes hit Greece over move to curb industrial action

A general strike crippled public transport in Athens on Monday and was set to hit air traffic ahead of a parliamentary vote on controversial reforms demanded by Greece’s creditors, including curbs on industrial action.

Apart from introducing much larger quorums on unions to call a strike, the 100-odd reforms also provide for the foreclosure and online auction of properties belonging to bad debt holders. Both are fiercely opposed by leftists and trade unions. Debt-laden Greece has received three multi-billion-euro bailouts since 2010. The third rescue program, currently financially supported by EU states but not the International Monetary Fund, runs to August 2018 and Athens then hopes to fully return to market financing.

Monday’s strike, called by a slew of unions, caused havoc in Athens, with the shutdown of public transport leading to huge traffic jams. State employees have also been asked to strike by their powerful union Adedy while air traffic controllers are set to stop work in the afternoon, potentially disrupting flights. Greece has seen around 50 massive strikes since 2010 following austerity measures imposed by creditors in return for multi-billion-euro bailouts orchestrated he European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.

The creditors are demanding changes to the 36-year-old industrial action law to limit future strikes. After Monday’s vote in parliament, Athens will wait for European finance ministers to approve the latest tranche of a third bailout program totaling 4.5 billion euros ($5.5 billion).

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