Tensions boil over in Greece

Greek public sector workers stormed
the Acropolis and scuffled with riot police after launching a 48-hour strike
against austerity measures.

Their action comes ahead of a
nationwide general strike on Wednesday.

The austerity measures were
outlined in a draft bill submitted to the Greek parliament and will be voted on
by the end of the week.

They have been introduced in return
for a $143 billion international rescue package agreed for the country.

The measures include wage freezes,
pension cuts and tax rises.

They aim to achieve fresh budget
cuts of $39 billion over three years, with the goal of cutting Greece’s public
deficit to less than 3 per cent of GDP by 2014. It currently stands at 13.6 per
cent.

Union leaders say the cuts target
low-income Greeks.

“There are other things the
[government] can do, before taking money from a pensioner who earns $631 a
month,” Spyros Papaspyros, leader of the public servants’ union ADEDY,
said.

Dozens of Communist protesters
broke into the ancient Acropolis at dawn, draping giant banners on the
Parthenon temple reading: “Peoples of Europe Rise Up.”

“We want to send a message to
the farthest reaches of Greece and Europe,” Communist MP Nikos Papaconstantinou
said.

“Similar measures that
eliminate social security are taken across Europe. But popular anger will rattle
imperialist organisations.”

Several thousand teachers and
students marched to parliament, carrying black flags and banners.

The demonstration was largely
peaceful. Some protesters handed red roses to riot policemen. But some scuffles
broke out near the parliament building, with demonstrators throwing stones at
riot police, who responded with pepper spray.

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