Introducing sweeping austerity measures, the Greek Parliament has introduced next year’s budget. The budget approves government spending cuts and increased taxes, all preconditions agreed by the government before availing International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union bailout packages.
The State Public Transport Union had called for a 24 hour strike before the parliament voted in favour of the new round of wage cuts. The government aims to trim the budget deficit by 2% to 7.4% next year from the present 9.4%.
The ruling socialists won the vote by 156-142.
Greece was required to pass the budget in order to continue access the $144 billion bailout fund, crated by IMF and the EU – to help the country fight its mounting debt.
Prime Minister George Papandreou vowed to make things better in the next year. “We will not go bankrupt. In 2012 we will return to a path of growth. We will not give speculators or ratings agencies the pleasure. We will do whatever it takes to succeed. We will change this country.”
Normal life was disrupted because of the strike with office goers struggling to get to work either by taxi or car. Although flights and ferry services were not affected, public transport such as bus and metro services were hit.
Private sector workers union GSEE thundered in a statement: “The struggle by the workers, the pensioners and the unemployed against these anti-worker and anti-social measures continues”.
“The workers and unions of the country will continue and intensify their action and struggles as long as these unjust and harsh neo-liberal policies continue”, it added.
The country has seen several strikes and civil unrest this year and apparently members of the ruling socialist party are also becoming restless.