Sunday, September 12, 2010
Protests threaten Greece's financial stability plans
Greeks took to the streets again yesterday after Prime Minister George Papandreou announced new austerity measures designed to keep Greece from defaulting on its international obligations, which include a new 110 billion euro loan from other European Union countries. The unrest appeared to be led by the country's powerful labor unions, which feel under threat from proposals to end their control of some of Greece's most vital professions. "The battle we are waging is for the survival of Greece," Papandreou said in the northern city of Thessaloniki, according to Cable News Network (CNN). "This is not a battle that the prime minister or his government will win or lose. This battle, we will either all win it together or we will all sink together." Greece's huge civil servant union, ADEDY, called a nationwide strike Monday to protest the latest austerity measures, which include thousands of layoffs at the national rail company, OSE, CNN said. "Unions don't agree with the social and economic politics of the government," said Spyros Papaspyrou, ADEDY's leader, CNN said. Other measures put forth by Papandreou include cuts in corporate income taxes aimed at halting the decline of the Greek economy, which is expected to contract by 4 percent in 2010 and 2 1/2 percent next year. As a condition of the EU loan, Greece is obligated to bring its massive budget deficit, now around 14 percent of its gross national product, down to the European Union limit of 3 percent by 2014, CNN said.