Employees of Greece's Hellenic Postbank (HPB) have once again held a demonstration in Athens to protest against plans by the government to privatize state-controlled banks. On Friday, HPB employees gathered near the bank headquarters to express discontent with plans by the government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for the privatization of the bank, saying the government should change its austerity plans. The Greek government has announced plans to sell off national banks such as HPB. In December 2012, a similar protest was held near the country’s Finance Ministry in the capital where employees called on officials to change their decisions on the sale.
HPB bank employees are likely to lose their jobs if the government sticks to the harsh strategy it has adopted to manage the economic crisis. The bank has over 2,000 employees.Athens has introduced austerity measures and other debt cutting methods to meet the conditions set by the European Union for receiving a 34.3-billion-euro aid package. With the rest of the package of almost 50 billion euros in financial assistance coming in March 2013, the government is pushing even harder to cut back its debt in order to satisfy the eurozone's requirements. Greece has been at the epicenter of a debt crisis in the eurozone and is experiencing its sixth year of recession, while harsh austerity measures have left about half a million people without jobs. One in every five Greek workers is currently unemployed, banks are in a shaky position, and pensions and salaries have been slashed by up to 40 percent. Greek youths have also been badly affected, and more than half of them are unemployed. MAM/HMV