Demonstrators shout slogans during a strike in Athens, Greece, on Nov. 14, 2018. Greece's umbrella trade unions of the public sector ADEDY called a 24-hour strike Wednesday, demanding increases in wages and pensions after being slashed since 2010. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
ATHENS, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Greece's umbrella trade unions of the public sector ADEDY called a 24-hour strike Wednesday, demanding increases in wages and pensions after being slashed since 2010.
It is the first major strike of the post-bailout era of the country as Greece exited its third bailout program on Aug. 20 this summer.
Thousands of strikers marched in front of the Greek parliament at Syntagma Square in Athens, chanting anti-austerity slogans, as public services nationwide were paralysed. Public hospitals run on skeleton staff, while schools and tax offices were closed.
"We demand increases to salaries. As you know in the last eight years, our wages have frozen, we have seen earnings shrink by up to 40 percent," ADEDY President Giannis Paidas told Xinhua.
Despite recent positive indexes on the course of Greek economy after eight years of crisis, workers protested against widening inequalities and job insecurity.
The ADEDY union wants the government to abolish the real estate property tax and reduce the VAT to 15 percent. Other demands include an end to privatizations, more public sector hirings and the abolition of all memorandum laws.
"The government says that we are free from memorandums, but commitments for high primary surpluses will continue for many years to come. Public health has collapsed. There are no funds. There is no nursing staff and the patients are hospitalized under bad conditions with hospital infections roaring. We will not allow that any further. We will be on the streets every day," said Michalis Giannakos, chairman of the Pan-Hellenic Federation of the Public Health Workers.
Argyris Christos, an auxiliary doctor from public hospital Georgios Gennimatas expressed his resentment with the government's extreme policies of austerity.
"Strikes will help us get everything back and surpluses will become increases in our wages and more hirings of staff. If we leave the government on its own, nothing will happen," he noted.
Greek labor unions have organized dozens of general strikes and thousands of rallies since 2009, but Greek governments and international creditors have insisted that there was no other way than painful sacrifices to keep the Greek economy afloat and in the euro zone.