Greece shut down amid mass rally, clashes
Greek police use tear gas as they scuffle with protesters during a mass rally in Athens against government’s austerity measures sought by Western creditors.
About 50,000 Greeks marched on parliament Thursday, carrying banners and flags and chanting anti-bailout and anti-government slogans.
Black-clad youths hurled stones and petrol bombs at police, who responded with rounds of tear gas and stun grenades, Reuters reported.
The government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, first elected just over a year ago on a platform of anti-austerity policies, is under pressure from all sides.
He is stuck between either bowing to creditors’ demands for more stringent measures or siding with thousands of Greeks opposed to such plans.
Main labor unions observed a 24-hour strike against the government’s pension reform plans on Thursday, bringing Greece to a standstill.
The strike paralyzed most public transportation, grounded domestic flights and ducked ferries in ports.
Denouncing the reform plans, the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) demanded in a statement that the government “revoke this monstrosity.”
The walkout is the second nationwide strike since Prime Minister Tsipras came to power in January 2015.
The pension plan is part of Greece’s promises to its Western creditors for carrying out reforms in the economy.
The heads of the European Union and International Monetary Fund mission arrived in Athens this week to discuss the pension plan, tax reforms and bad loans.
Critics of the reform plan say it will cause majority of the professions to pay most of their income in social security contributions and taxes.