Greece strikes against budget cuts

Athens: Some 20,000 people demonstrated in Greece on Thursday as a general strike against new budget cuts and labour reform paralysed the civil service and disrupted transports. Around 16,000 mainly Communist demonstrators marched in Athens while another 4,500 protested in Thessaloniki, local police said.
Some of the protesters held banners in support of Palestine and against the US decision to name Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Greek unions called the 24-hour labour action against new budget cuts and plans to revamp labour mobilisation rules.
In addition to shutting down the public sector, the strike sidelined trains and ships, disrupted some domestic flights and the operation of public hospitals and schools.
The budget goes to a vote in parliament on December 22.
The Greek finance ministry is maintaining high taxation with the aim of collecting a budget surplus equivalent to 3.8 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), excluding debt payments in 2018.
The country’s EU-IMF creditors have also demanded a revision in labour law, setting a higher worker participation requirement for strikes to be held at primary union level.
Greece has tougher targets to meet this year, as the primary surplus goal mandated by its international creditors is 3.5 per cent, up from 1.75 per cent this year. The ministry last month said that enough “fiscal room” was achieved to permit tax cuts after 2018, when the country is scheduled to exit its third multi-billion EU-backed bailout.