Rain dampens latest Greek strike against austerity

Reuters

* Greek labour unions hold 24-hour strike against austerity

* Lower turnout at rallies due to heavy rain, resignation

* Thousands march to parliament after troika resumes review

By Renee Maltezou

ATHENS, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Thousands of striking Greekworkers marched to parliament in pouring rain on Wednesday toprotest against measures imposed by foreign lenders, whoseinspectors are in Athens to review the country's bailout.

The 24-hour general walkout by Greece's largest public andprivate sector unions shut schools and disrupted flights but farfewer people took to the streets compared with previous protestsas heavy downpours blanketed Athens.

The "troika" of European Commission, European Central Bankand the International Monetary Fund inspectors resumed theirlatest bailout review on Tuesday.

"Enough is enough, we've lost our dignity." said FotiniHalikiopoulou, a 55-year old public sector employee.

"We've sacrificed everything and they (the troika) are notbudging an inch."

School teachers, doctors, municipal and transport workerswere among the groups that joined the strike. Air trafficcontrollers stopped work from 1000 to 1300 GMT and journalistsstopped work for five hours.

But the bleak weather and despondency among Greeks inured toprotests against the erosion of jobs and benefits meant themarches largely fizzled, with two unions cancelling plans for acoordinated march to parliament because of the rain.

About 15,000 protesters, mainly from the Communist groupPAME and leftist parties, rallied at central Syntagma squarewhere police and demonstrators have clashed in the past.

They held banners reading "No more sacrifices" and chanted"Don't bow down!"

KEEP FIGHTING

Labour unions fear Greece will have to impose further wageand pension cuts to meet its bailout targets in the comingyears, union officials said. Greece and its lenders are at oddsover the size of a projected budget hole next year.

The unions are also protesting against planned public sectorjob cuts and privatisations.

"We'll keep fighting," said Stathis Anestis, generalsecretary of the private sector union GSEE. "We warn thegovernment that people will not tolerate any more austerity."

Greece is in its sixth year of a recession, and repeatedrounds of austerity have squeezed households and sentunemployment to record highs of over 27 percent.

GSEE and public sector union ADEDY have brought people tothe streets repeatedly since the crisis erupted in 2009, withturnout in some demonstrations topping 100,000. The protestshave tested the government's will to implement spending cuts andreforms prescribed by the troika.

But this year protests have been dampened by a growing senseof resignation among Greeks.

Still, anger remains high against austerity policiesidentified with Germany and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras'scoalition government has rejected further across-the-board wageand pension cuts or tax increases to fill any budget gaps.

"Society cannot take it, the economy cannot take it, and itis not even required by the country's current financialsituation," Samaras said in a television interview on Tuesday.

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