* Second day of general strike to paralyze Greece
* Parliament votes on details of austerity plan
* Protesters to rally in front of parliament after clashes
By Renee Maltezou and Ingrid Melander
ATHENS, Oct 20 Angry protesters vowed to bring
Greece to a standstill on the second day of a general strike on
Thursday while disgruntled lawmakers vote on the details of a
deeply unpopular austerity package needed to stave off
Parliament is expected to give a final green light late in
the day to the belt-tightening plan required by the EU and the
IMF, after backing it in principle in a first reading on
Wednesday despite the country's biggest labour action in years.
But some ruling party MPs have warned they may vote against
one of the bill's most controversial provisions, threatening to
weaken the beleaguered government's narrow majority as it
battles a debt crisis that is shaking global markets.
Thousands of police will be deployed through central Athens
after black-clad youth clashed with riot police on Wednesday,
pelting them with petrol bombs and chunks of marble during an
anti-austerity march that drew more than 100,000 protesters.
Ships will be docked, ministries and schools shut and
hospitals will work on skeleton staff in the second day of a
48-hour strike against plans to pile more taxes on austerity-hit
Greeks and put tens of thousands of state workers on the road to
"The protests will shake the government again, they will
feel like an earthquake," said Ilias Iliopoulos, secretary
general of public union ADEDY.
Protesters are set to rally in front of parliament from 0800
GMT and will try to stay on the square till late at night, while
lawmakers vote on the bill.
Analysts expect the protests to continue unabated as Greeks
of all walks of life have become increasingly angry at measures
they feel only hurt the poorest while tax evaders and corrupt
politicians remain unaffected.
But commentators see no other option for the ruling
Socialists, who hold 154 seats in the 300-strong assembly, than
to pass the measures, a key condition to convince the EU and IMF
ahead of a crunch summit on Sunday that Greece deserves to keep
getting the loans it needs to avoid bankruptcy.
"People sent a message on Wednesday that they have reached
their limits and can't take any more austerity," said Theodore
Couloumbis of the ELIAMEP think-tank.
"But these kind of protests cannot topple the government ...
I don't see this happening now," he said.
The bill foresees an average income cut of about 20 percent
for public sector workers, according to estimates by public
sector labour unions, and reduces the tax-free income threshold.
It will make it easier for firms to cut payroll costs by
reaching company-level wage agreements, which has particularly
angered some ruling party lawmakers.`
Prime Minister George Papandreou will hold a cabinet meeting
at around 0900 GMT, ahead of the parliamentary vote and of
Sunday's EU summit.