NPR logo Greece Bailout Doubts, Protests Grow


Greece Bailout Doubts, Protests Grow

The general strike set for Wednesday in Greece isn't the sort of action likely to persuade already skittish global financial markets that Greeks are in the frame of mind needed for nation to take the kinds of steps necessary to lift the country out of its economic hole.

The planned massive strike is just the kind of action that could enlarge doubts. And it was uncertainties about the potential success of the International Monetary Fund and Eurozone nations' plan to lend Greece $146 billion so it can pay its debts, and questions about the Greek government's ability to enact painful austerity measures, that caused world financial markets Tuesday to tumble.

On Tuesday Greece experienced protests that were meant as a small prelude of what unions hoped was to come.

As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reported for the network's newscast:

Central Athens was closed to traffic today as civil servants began a 48 hour strike to protest sharp wage cuts...

The day started with a group of 100 leftist protesters breaking the gates to the Acropolis — the city's major tourist site - where they hung banners with the words "Peoples of Europe, rise up."

Rallies were scattered — private school teachers protested a new bill that will diminish their job security by allowing employers to fire staff more easily. And pensioners marched against cuts in annual bonuses.

The brunt of the nationwide walkout will come Wednesday, when public transport, air traffic, ferry links and other services come to a halt.

An important early test of the Greek government's ability to impose the tough new measures on the nation, which include tax increases on a country where tax compliance is notoriously low, and deep pay cuts for public employees and pensioners, will come Thursday when the IMF-Eurozone-Greek agreement is scheduled to be voted on by the Hellenic nation's parliament.