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Austerity-tired Greeks protest at more cuts

Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 01:39

A transport strike brought Athens to a halt, as Greek pensioners and construction workers protested against the government's economic reforms. Greece may have secured its next installment of international aid, but more demonstrations are likely as the cuts continue. Joanna Partridge reports

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Athens at a standstill once again. Commuters in the Greek capital were hit by another 24-hour transport strike. SOUNDBITE: Stelios Galerakis, Jeweller, saying (Greek): "I suffered to get to work. I should have been at the office at eight but I arrived at nine-thirty. I don't agree with strikes at all." Since September there has been little let-up from strikes and demonstrations over the government's economic reforms. More public sector workers have lost their jobs and unemployment has hit 26%. UPSOUND The elderly have also taken to the streets. Pensioners demonstrated against government cuts to wages, benefits and their pensions. They say the latest, and third, reduction to pensions will push many into poverty. Construction workers protested outside the National Accounting Office where Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was meeting the finance minister. SOUNDBITE: Costas Hatziaras, Construction worker, saying (Greek): "In the last three years unemployment in our sector has reached 90 percent. At the moment there are lots of colleagues who can't afford to put food on the table or to send their kids to school. They've condemned us." After weeks of wrangling, Greece recently secured the latest installment of 49 billion euros of financial aid from its international lenders. Samaras said he understood the protests, but the financial situation had improved. SOUNDBITE: Greek Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, saying (English): "We have gone through thick and thin, and we are trying to solve everybody's problems." Greece is in its fifth year of recession and the OECD doesn't see the economy recovering until 2015. Greeks are tired of austerity, but more cuts are due in 2013. And strikes and protests are only likely to intensify.

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Austerity-tired Greeks protest at more cuts

Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 01:39