Greek police fire teargas at protesters in Athens

ATHENS Thu Mar 4, 2010 4:15pm EST

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek police fired teargas on Thursday to disperse about 50 demonstrators in central Athens after clashes broke out during protests against government austerity measures, a police official said.

Left-wing groups and communist trade unions rallied in the Greek capital a day after the government announced 4.8 billion euros ($6.5 billion) in wage cuts, a pension freeze and tax increases to reduce its huge fiscal deficit.

"There were clashes between police and protesters," the official said. "Police fired teargas. There were a few arrests."

Opposition to THE austerity measures has so far been relatively muted for a country with a tradition of street protests but one pollster said it should move quickly to counter a general sense of shock.

The private sector GSEE union and its sister public sector union ADEDY, which represent half of Greece's 5-million workforce, called workers to stop work from midday on Friday and attend a rally outside parliament.

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Andrew Dobbie)