24-hour Anti-austerity Strike Paralyses Greece
All planes are grounded and public transportation is at a halt except for taxis as Greece is paralysed by a 24-hour strike and hundreds of thousands of public and private sector workers protest against austerity measures.
A total of 29 flights from Cyprus to Greece have been cancelled and passengers are advised to contact their airlines before leaving for the airport.
Earlier this week, Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos admitted that Greece will miss its target deficits for 2011 and 2012, prompting fears of more austerity cuts and triggering the second major strike in less than a month.
The Greek government has just accelerated austerity measures and plans to cut pensions and civil employees' salaries. Without the cuts demanded by international investors, the cash-strapped country risks not receiving the next tranche in a 110 billion-euro bailout package funded by the EU and IMF.
The proposed austerity measures include lowering the tax-free threshold to €5,000, keeping in line with the eurozone average; implementing a unified salary and grade scale in the public sector, which will smooth out differences and alleviate cost burdens; introduce a 20% cut in the amount exceeding a €1,200 threshold in pensions, and a 40% cut in the amount exceeding a €1,000 threshold in pensions issued to pensioners under 55 years-old, until they reach that age.
In addition, 30,000 public sector employees, accounting for 3% of total public sector labour force, will be placed under the labour reserve scheme. Finally, scheduled reforms which will speed up privatizations, open closed shop professions, redress labour market distortions and overhaul the tax code will continue apace.
Venizelos said that the Greek government has enough cash to last through November, but fears that the country will default on its debts still loom over international markets.