Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Clashes in Greece as strikes over inflation disrupt public transport

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Thousands of people have protested across Greece amid a general strike against price hikes.

Public and some private sector workers walked off the job for 24 hours on Wednesday to protest against rising inflation rates.

The strike disrupted services around the country, with state-run schools shut, and some public hospitals running with reduced staff.

Most public transport in Greece also came to a standstill, including ferry services to smaller islands, while airlines had already cancelled dozens of flights.

“We demand higher wages and social protection for everyone”, the Confederation of Private Employees GSEE said.

Brief clashes broke out between small groups of protesters and riot police during marches in Greece’s two largest cities, Athens and Thessaloniki.

Small groups of demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The strike was the latest in Europe amid a cost of living crisis, a Russia’s war in Ukraine drives up energy and food prices while boosting profits at energy companies.

Inflation in the 19 countries that use the euro currency — including Greece and Belgium — hit a record 10.7% last month.

Even as some countries have passed energy relief packages, many have called on their governments to do more to ease rising bills.

The government has announced a €5.5 billion envelope with exceptional aid of €250 euros for the lowest income earners, housing aid for students, and an emergency subsidy for farmers.

But unions believe that these measures are part of the “pre-election” campaign of the ruling conservative party.

Workers in Belgium also held a nationwide strike on Wednesday over cost-of-living increases as trade unions called for wage increases.

Most trains and public transport were reduced to a minimum and 60% of flights were cancelled at Brussels airport. Staff at supermarkets, shopping centres, and hospitals also joined the strike.

In the UK, the country’s largest nursing union announced its first strike in its 106-year history. France is also expected to see nationwide action on Thursday.



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