People participate in a march during the strike of the private sector in Athens, Greece, on Nov. 28, 2018. A new 24-hour nationwide anti-austerity strike called by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), the country's umbrella labor union for the private sector, hit the country on Wednesday. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
ATHENS, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- A new 24-hour nationwide anti-austerity strike called by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), the country's umbrella labor union for the private sector, hit the country on Wednesday.
Strikers who marched in the center of Athens chanted slogans demanding an end to tax hikes, increases in pensions, as well as the restoration of collective wage agreements and the monthly minimum wage to the pre-crisis level from the current 580 euros (655 U.S. dollars) to 751 euros (848 dollars).
"Enough is enough. Workers' needs should come first," read banners waved by protesters during the rally.
The strike caused traffic jams in the capital city and thus disrupted public transportation. Metro, tram and many buses ceased operations the whole day, and ferries remained docked at ports.
Wednesday's labor action follows a 24-hour strike organized by the umbrella trade union of the public sector ADEDY earlier this month, and a long series of strikes and protests staged in the past eight years of the Greek debt crisis with similar demands.
Following Greece's formal exit from the bailout era this August, after eight years of harsh policies aimed at achieving fiscal adjustment and reforming the ailing economy, the government has pledged gradual implementation of relief measures to heal the wounds of the crisis without jeopardizing economic growth.
However, labor unions argued that the pace will be too slow, and more needs to be done to allow some breathing space for the average Greek households and businesses that have lost up to 40 percent of their incomes during the crisis, according to official estimates.
According to a GSEE press statement, it will take a decade to restore the monthly minimum salary to the pre-crisis level under the government's planning.