General strike in Greece as austerity package advances

The Greek cabinet approved new austerity measures demanded by the EU and IMF in return for a €130 billion ($170 billion) bailout, as unions began a two-day general strike Feb. 10. This second proposed bailout would cut €3.3 billion from state spending, lower the minimum wage by more than 20%, and lay off thousands of workers. Demonstrators in front of the parliament building threw rocks and petrol bombs at police, who retaliated with tear gas. The austerity bill must be approved by parliament. Five ministers have resigned from the government in protest of the bill, and junior parties in the ruling coalition have defected over the “humiliating” terms. But interim Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said rejecting the measures “is not an option that we can allow as the country will pay a high price for the consequences… Any other option would be catastrophic.” (SETimes, BBC News, NYT, Feb. 10)

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