Greek taxis, doctors, dentists on strike

AP , Thursday 8 Sep 2011

Greek taxi drivers, hospital doctors and dentists walked out on their jobs at the start of a new round of anti-austerity protests by professional groups and labour unions in the debt-ridden country

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An employee at the Athens Metro puts up a notice to announce a four-hour work stoppage on Wednesday (AP)

Taxi drivers were on a 24-hour strike on Thursday against plans to open up their profession to more competition, and were to hold another day-long walkout over the weekend, while dentists and state hospital doctors began a two-day strike against a series of reforms affecting their profession.

More strikes from the likes of garbage collectors, teachers and tax office workers, are expected in the coming weeks.

Greece's Socialist government is stepping up spending cuts, under pressure from international lenders who have seen the country miss targets necessary for it to continue receiving loans from its bailout fund.

After years of overspending and waste, the country found itself unable to service its debts, and has been relying since May 2010 on funds from a $154 billion package of rescue loans from other euro zone countries and the International Monetary Fund. In July, European leaders agreed on a second, $153 billion bailout with more favourable repayment terms for the country, after it became clear the first package would not be enough.

But the country has been struggling to meet the revenue and reform targets set in the bailout agreement.

International debt inspectors left Athens last week during a bailout review amid disagreement over the country's deficit figures for this year and 2012.

On Wednesday, Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the group of euro zone finance ministers, said Greece might not get its next, $11 billion batch of loans this month if it did not meet its targets. Without the funds, the country would default on its debts within weeks.

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