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Greek strike reminds of bad old times

Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 01:38

Violent clashes have broken out in Athens after Greek workers walked off the job to protest austerity measures demanded by international lenders. As Sonia Legg reports, the strike is a test for the prime minister who came to power promising to end austerity, but accepted the unpopular terms of a third bailout under the threat of a euro zone exit.

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The first general strike in Greece in many months. And this time the protestors are on the other side of the fence to left-wing politicians. The industrial action - and the clashes that came with it - are the biggest domestic challenge yet to Alexis Tsipras's government. Elected on a promise to ease up on austerity - he ended up having to accept a third bailout - with very unpopular terms, to keep Greece in the euro. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) PROTESTER, THEMIS ARGENIS, A PENSIONER, SAYING: "We Greek pensioners can't afford to live. Enough of cuts to our pensions and wages - the Greek people must rise up." (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) PROTESTER, OLGA KOUTSOUBOU, SAYING: "The measures that the government wants to pass will bury us." The strike brought transport to a standstill. Schools were closed and hospitals took emergency cases only. It was all reminiscent of times gone by - a period many hoped was now over. Jane Foley is from Rabobank. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JANE FOLEY, SENIOR CURRENCY STRATEGIST, RABOBANK, SAYING: "The strike that we are having today is still very suggestive of the difficulties of implementing austerity in Greece. Now that means that even if this bailout does go through there are still going to be problems further down the line and that's even before there's a new set of discussions about cuts to the level of its debt." There are also signs of a new disagreement between Athens and its lenders. The government isn't keen on a tougher approach to those homeowners who are late with mortgage payments. There's a lot at stake - not least the release of a two-billion euro tranche of bailout money. Without it - Greece can't pay off state arrears/debts or give its main banks the 10 billion euros they desperately need.

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Greek strike reminds of bad old times

Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 01:38