Flights grounded as Greek workers strike

Domestic and international air traffic over Greece has been grounded, as workers launch a third general strike in protest at austerity measures announced by the government.

Under huge pressure from the European Union, the Socialist government’s harsh new plan was introduced last week in an effort to trim the country’s ballooning deficit.

Some $65.33 billion is to be saved; largely through public sector salary cuts, recruitment and pension freezes and consumer tax hikes.

The cutbacks are in addition to previous $15.24 billion austerity plan announced earlier this year.

Ministers are seeking to reduce the country’s budget deficit from 12.7 per cent of annual output to 8.7 per cent this year.

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The long-term target is to bring overspending below the EU ceiling of three per cent of GDP in 2012.

Striking Back

The measures have proved unpopular with the Greek people, who have staged a number of walkouts in protest.

Today’s action has shut down all public services and schools, left ferries tied up at port and suspended all news broadcasts for the day.

Air traffic control over Greek airspace is expected to remain closed for up to 24-hours.

The strike has been organised by the private sector General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) and its public sector sister union ADEDY; together the groups represent half of the country’s five million workers.