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UPDATE 1-Greek 'human chain' protest delays talks with lenders
ATHENS, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Greek trade unionists protesting against austerity measures formed a human chain to block the entrance to the Labour Ministry on Tuesday, delaying talks with Greece's foreign lenders.
Dozens from the Communist-affiliated PAME group unfurled banners reading "Troika, IMF, ECB - Get out of here!" outside the ministry's main entrance.
The talks with inspectors from the 'troika' of European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund were scheduled to start at 1 p.m. (1000 GMT), but only began two hours later, after the protesters left.
Troika officials suggested meeting at a hotel instead but Labour Minister Yannis Vroutsis insisted on talks at the ministry, the semi-official Athens News Agency said.
The minister declined to comment after the talks, saying only that the discussions would continue at a later date.
Greeks are lining up a string of protests against a new round of belt-tightening demanded by the lenders as the price for continued aid to avoid bankruptcy.
The two main unions are planning a general strike this month, officials say, while teachers, tax officials and tourism workers are among those staging strikes and other stoppages this week.
The package of EU/IMF-mandated spending cuts worth nearly 12 billion euros over the next two years will further slash the wages and pensions of Greeks already reeling from previous rounds of austerity.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's government must push through the cuts to ensure Greece gets its next round of bailout money, but has run into trouble on the issue with both troika officials and its own allies.
The troika wants Greece to toughen the package with bolder cuts to the public sector workforce, officials say. But Samaras has yet to convince his Socialist and leftist allies to agree to the package even without the troika's new demands.
The moderate Democratic Left party, a junior partner in Samaras's fragile three-party coalition, outlined objections on Tuesday to plans for across-the-board cuts in holiday bonuses for pensioners and reductions in disability benefits.
Instead, it suggested cutting military spending and energy subsidies, and curbing waste in health spending.
Greece, which is struggling through its worst recession since World War Two, must present a new plan to euro zone finance ministers at a meeting on Friday.
Samaras also held talks with ECB President Mario Draghi on Tuesday, reiterating his commitment to getting Greece's reforms back on track.
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