ATHENS Oct 4 Greek public sector workers
blocked the entrance to several ministries on Tuesday to protest
against austerity measures they say are choking the economy,
disrupting talks with EU and IMF inspectors on a vital aid
Two years after the Socialists scored a sweeping election
victory on a pledge to help the poor and tax the rich, the
government is struggling to juggle austerity demands from the
lenders that saved the country from bankruptcy and protests from
voters hit hard by the measures.
Athens admitted on Sunday, when it agreed a draft budget for
next year, that it will miss its 2011 deficit target despite a
series of tax hikes, pension and wage cuts and a "labour
reserve" plan to put tens of thousands of public sector workers
on the road to redundancy.
"There is very big turmoil and very deep anger in society,"
the secretary general of public sector union ADEDY, Ilias
Iliopoulos, told Reuters as he took part in the protest, which
blocked several buildings including the Finance Ministry.
"Today's protests mainly have to do with the labour reserve
and firings. But there is also the new budget which brings new
measures against the people," he said, a day before a 24-hour
strike by the public sector union and state utility workers.
Protesters also blocked the entrance of other public
buildings including the Agriculture, Culture and Development
ministries, a police official said. They did the same on
Thursday and Friday, when the European Union/International
Monetary Fund inspection of Greece's finances started.
Euro zone finance ministers agreed on Monday that Greece
could wait until mid-November to receive the next,
8-billion-euro installment from its aid programme, piling more
pressure on Athens to tackle its debt problems as EU, IMF and
European Central Bank inspectors continue their inspection of
The euro zone ministers are also reviewing the size of the
private sector's involvement in a second international bailout
package, a move that could undermine the aid programme and
hasten the threat of a default.
Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos will hold a news
conference at 1000 GMT in Athens, his office said, without
providing details on what he would discuss.
The government said on Monday the country will remain in
recession next year, threatening its efforts to put its finances
back on track and claw its way out of a debt crisis shaking the
euro zone, with more belt-tightening looming.
The economy will suffer a fourth consecutive year of
contraction, shrinking by 2.5 percent in 2012 after an expected
5.5 percent slump this year, according to the 2012 budget draft.
(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Writing by Ingrid Melander;
Editing by Janet Lawrence)