Greek unions set anti-austerity strike for July 8

Thu Jul 1, 2010 5:41pm GMT

By Angeliki Koutantou and Renee Maltezou

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's main labour unions called a 24-hour strike for July 8 on Thursday in protest against sweeping pension reforms and other austerity measures to help end a debt crisis.

It will be the sixth joint stoppage this year by Greece's main public and private sector unions, which together represent about 2.5 million workers, or half the Greek workforce.

Private sector union GSEE said the strike would coincide with a vote in parliament on pension reform, part of a package agreed by the socialist government in return for a 110 billion euro (£89 billion) bailout by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

"GSEE rejects the pension bill and the labour reforms," it said in a statement, saying it would refuse "any regulation which will result once again in unfair and unbearable measures for workers and pensioners."

The main public sector union, ADEDY, will also take part, Ilias Iliopoulos, its general secretary, told Reuters. The unions had previously announced plans for a strike in July but had not fixed a date.

Turnout at rallies on strike days has fallen -- about 12,000 people marched in Athens in the last joint stoppage on June 29, against 50,000 in the biggest rally on May 5, when three people died in the fire-bombing of an Athens bank.

Weariness with strikes, summer heat and resignation to austerity may be among the factors for the lower turnout, analysts say.

RETIREMENT   Continued...

<p>Protesters gesture in front of the Greek parliament during a rally against government austerity measures in Athens June 29, 2010. REUTERS/John Kolesidis</p>
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