Greeks Strike Before Austerity Vote

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ATHENS, Greece, Oct. 19 (UPI) — Workers in Greece initiated a two-day strike Wednesday to protest austerity budget measures, union leaders said.

The strike was organized by two unions that represent a combined 2.5 million workers, The New York Times reported.

The strike is expected to close down schools, airports and trash collections. The Times said all flights had been canceled. Trains were stopped, as was ferry service. The only available public transportation still running was in place to get protesters to rally sites.

The strike is one of a series of worker protests that began with Greece turning to its eurozone partners for help with its debt crisis.

International loans have come with the price of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, collectively known as the troika, demanding Greece reduce the size of its deficit. That has led to a series of cuts in government programs coupled with tax increases.

The Greek Parliament is scheduled to vote Thursday on new fiscal measures.

Protests in Athens turned violent in June when members of Parliament passed the latest round of austerity measures.

Prime Minister George Papandreou called for calm. “We must endure this battle so that the country can win, we must be calm and rise to the challenge,” he said.

Investors are also keeping a close eye on developments. If the measures fail, it could cause the troika to hold back on Greece’s next loan installment, which would keep the government from going broke in November.

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