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Greek Workers Protest Austerity Plan

Greek Workers Protest Austerity Plan

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Published by: bowssen on May 23, 2010
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05/22/2010

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Greek Workers Protest Austerity Plan
By DAN BILEFSKY and DAVID JOLLYPublished: May 4, 2010
 ATHENS — Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in Greeceon Tuesday, unfurling banners over the Acropolis to rail against new austerity measures aimed at helping the debt-ridden country stave off economic disaster.Investors took fright across Europe and on Wall Street, sending theeuro to a fresh one-year low. A leading indicator of European blue-chip stocks was off more than 3 percent by the end of the day, whilethe Dow Jones industrial average was down 2 percent in afternoontrading amid persistent worries that Europe's debt crisis would spread. At a news conference in Brussels, the Spanish prime minister, José Luis RodríguezZapatero, rejected the idea that his country - which is headed into a second year of recession with a soaring budget deficit and an unemployment rate of 20 percent - mightalso require a Greek-style bailout.''That's something I would not give any credit to,'' Mr. Zapatero said.''It is complete madness.''But markets did not seem reassured. In Madrid, the IBEX 35 index fell 5.4 percent to closeat 9,859.10 points. In Athens, the Athex composite index plunged 6.7 percent to 1,729.68. And in Portugal, whose fiscal position is also regarded as precarious, the PSI general indexslid 3.8 percent to 2,485.43.
Louisa Gouliamaki/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Protesters waved flags from the Acropolis archaeological site behind banners in English and Greek hung in front of theParthenon temple in Athens.
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 ''There is a still a feeling of nervousness around the Greece rescue package and problems inthe peripheral economies,'' Giles Watts, head of trading at City Index, told Reuters.Earlier in the day, dozens of protesters from the Communist Party broke the locks at theentrance to the Acropolis, the country's most famous tourist attraction, and hung bannerssaying: ''Peoples of Europe - Rise Up.''The Socialist government of Prime Minister George Papandreou on Sunday announced belt-tightening measures intended to save ¤30 billion, or $39 billion, over the next three years. The plan is part of an effort to clear the way for a ¤110 billion rescue package fromthe European Union and the International Monetary Fund aimed at preventing the country from defaulting on its debt.The measures, including freezes in public sector salaries, cuts in pensions and higher salestaxes, amount to a cultural revolution in the social contract between state and citizen.Public sector workers, including teachers and hospital employees, began striking Tuesday. A nationwide general strike planned for Wednesday aims to bring services like publictransport to a halt across the country.Some analysts said the strikes could mark the beginning of a long hot summer of socialunrest that threatened to unhinge desperately needed economic changes and couldundermine the country's recovery by stifling growth.But thus far the demonstrations have been largely peaceful and muted by Greek standards,suggesting that a majority of Greeks are resigned to the fact that there is little choice otherthan to wait and endure
 David Jolly reported from Paris. James Kanter contributed reporting from Brussels.
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Past Coverage
Japanese Stocks Tumble as Greek Crisis Reverberates(May 5, 2010)STOCKS AND BONDS; As Markets Slip, Worries About Borrowing in Europe(May 5, 2010)NEWS ANALYSIS; Bold Stroke May Be Beyond Europe's Means(May 5, 2010)Greek Unrest Raises Fears About Impact on Bailout(May 5, 2010)
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