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A man walks at the empty arrival terminal during a 12-hour work stoppage by air traffic controllers at the Athens International Airport. Thanassis Stavrakis/AP/Press Association Images

'Massive' strike to bring Greece to a standstill

A mass walk-out by workers has started in Greece, bringing the country’s corporate and public sectors to a halt ahead of a key vote in Parliament.

A MASSIVE 48-hour general strike is due to grind Greece to a halt over the next two days as workers stage protests over a range of austerity measures introduced to solve the country’s debt crisis.

According to the BBC, flights have already been grounded, most public services – including schools – are shut and offices and shops have remained closed this morning.

Rubbish collectors have also stopped working over recent days, allowing waste to pile up on the streets.

Mass protests, organised by the country’s two largest trade unions, are due to begin in Athens this morning. Extra police have been deployed on the streets ahead of the planned demonstrations.

Similar demonstrations in July led to a break-out of violence in the city.

There have been numerous walk-outs of public sector workers since further pay cuts, taxes and other austerity measures were introduced this year.

The unions – ADEDY and GSEE – have said that the political leaders have “failed” the country, pushing it deeper into recession and overseeing rocketing unemployment and a collapsed standard or living.

There is a key vote in parliament on Thursday over more new measures and the ruling Socialist party is already facing mounting party dissent.

The two bills facing Parliament today and tomorrow include one on the suspension of years-old labour rights and another on changes to pensions and salaries and tax hikes.

Prime Minister George Papandreou has pleaded for his MPs’ support, according to Reuters. The party’s four-seat majority, however, is expected to be enough to see the bills through.

The EU and IMF have demanded the cuts in exchange for loans to keep the country from defaulting on its debt payments. Athens awaits a €8 billion payout from its international partners to ensure it can pay its bills come November.

-Additional reporting by AP

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