Municipal employees have taken to the streets in the Greek capital, Athens, to protest against the government’s latest austerity measures, Press TV reports. Demonstrators began a 48-hour strike on Wednesday. Mayor of Athens Georgos Kaminis told Press TV, “All of us mayors are united because municipal operations are threatened. Municipal authorities support our society… It will be a heavy fault and a tragic mistake for some municipalities to face closure.” Last year, the monthly state funding for Greece’s 370 municipalities was 168 million euros. After the national elections in June 2012 this figure decreased to 135 million euros. “Our contracts expire on September 30 and so far both the labor and internal affairs ministers are refusing to tell us what will happen to the 3,500 workers in the program and the 130,000 elderly Athenian beneficiaries,” said Sofia Kolizari, a municipal worker.
Workers say next month is crucial for the country’s economy, and many commentators believe September is a make-or-break month for the country’s financial insolvency.Greece has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis and is experiencing its fifth year in recession, caused by the harsh government-introduced austerity measures. The European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have presented Greece with two rescue packages in return for specific austerity measures, which include the cutting of public sector salaries and pensions, increasing taxes, and overhauling the pension system. The country has promised to cut more than USD 14 billion off its spending over a two-year-long period starting from 2013 in order to get bailed out by other eurozone countries and the IMF. Next month, a team of auditors from the European Commission, the IMF, and the European Central Bank will present their findings on whether Greece has done enough to receive further financial aid. Greek officials have repeatedly argued that the magnitude of the public spending cuts is pushing the country further into recession. YH/HSN