Greek riot police fired tear gas to repel hundreds of anti-austerity protesters trying to break a cordon outside Parliament, but no arrests or injuries were reported and the clashes quickly subsided, AP reported.
Police said some 10,000 people took part in an otherwise peaceful march to Parliament under heavy rain, organized by the country’s two biggest labor unions. A separate demonstration by about 10,000 Communist unionists ended without incident.
A general strike against the impending cutbacks stopped train and ferry services nationwide, while many schools and banks were closed and state hospitals worked on skeleton staff.
Meanwhile, Greek party leaders will meet to seek a long-delayed agreement on harsh cutbacks demanded to avoid looming bankruptcy, amid intense pressure from its bailout creditors to reach a deal, a general strike disrupting public services and thousands of protesters taking to the streets of Athens.
Heads of the three parties backing the interim government will confer with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos on new salary cuts and job losses, which Greece’s eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund are demanding to keep the country’s vital rescue loans flowing.
Prime Minister Lucas Papademos’ government caved in to demands to cut civil service jobs, announcing 15,000 positions would go this year, out of a total 750,000. The decision breaks a major taboo, as state jobs had been protected for more than a century to prevent political purges by governments seeking to appoint their supporters.
Athens must placate its creditors to clinch a euro130 billion $170 billion bailout deal from the eurozone and the IMF and avoid a March default on its bond repayments.
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