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Greece at standstill again in third general strike

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by Kay Mitchell

Crisis-hit Greece has come to a standstill again today after workers staged the third general strike in as many weeks.

The further strike comes after austerity measures to rescue Greece’s debt-stricken economy angered Greek trade unions.

Greece is currently taking action to reduce its public deficit from 12% to 8% of GDP this year.

The country currently has the highest debt of the 16-member euro zone, at €300 billion (£273 billion) and its economy is considered to be the euro zone’s weakest.

Its debt crisis has weakened the value of the euro, it has lost around one tenth of its value against the dollar since late 2009.

As a result, the Greek Government announced measures to cut its deficit and these include a public sector pay freeze, a hike in taxes on petrol, alcohol and tobacco and an increase to the retirement age.

In today’s strike, air traffic controllers have closed the country’s airspace for 24 hours, while schools and hospitals closed. Ferries are also static as maritime unions joined the strike.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is seeking assistance from fellow euro zone nations to make it cheaper to borrow funds on the international financial markets.

European Union leaders said they are committed to help Greece but no details have been provided.

Another general strike has been called for 16 March.

In related news, the EU revealed last week the euro zone may get its own version of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The proposed institution, which could be known as the European Monetary Fund (EMF), is being considered to prevent a repeat crisis but would not be set up to organise a bailout for Greece.

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News posted: March 11, 2010

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