Greek workers walk out over ‘suffocating’ inflation
ATHENS – Greek workers began a 24-hour nationwide strike on Wednesday demanding higher wages to combat surging inflation, disrupting ground transport, flights and ferry services.
High energy prices and soaring living costs have triggered strikes and protests across Europe this month, including in Germany, France and Spain.
The nationwide walkout in Greece – the second this year called by private and public sector unions representing over 2.5 million workers – was expected to culminate in rallies outside parliament later on Wednesday.
Ferries were docked at ports and work stoppages by bus, train and metro staff were expected to cause travel chaos in the capital. Some flights were grounded as air traffic controllers planned to joined the walkout from 0800 to 1400 GMT.
While the Greek economy is growing at nearly twice the euro zone rate this year thanks to a rebound in tourism, inflation is near a three-decade peak at 12 percent, among the highest in the 19 countries sharing the euro.
“Workers … are battling against the inflation suffocating Greek households, the jungle-like conditions in the labor market, against the burdens they have been carrying on their backs for years,” said GSEE, the main private sector union.
GSEE said it was “imperative” for the government to take measures to tackle inflation as the high cost of energy and basic goods was eating into people’s disposable income.
Together with public sector umbrella union ADEDY, it is demanding an increase in the minimum wage, which currently stands at around 713 euros ($717) per month, and the restoration of collective labor law.
The conservative government has spent over 9 billion euros since September 2021 on power subsidies and other measures to alleviate the burden of rising energy and fuel costs for farmers, households and businesses.
It has promised to increase pensions next year for the first time since the country’s financial crisis and boost the minimum wage further.
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