Members of Communist-affiliated PAME labor union Protesters take part in a rally during a 24-hour strike in Athens, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. Unions want the left-led government to ditch key elements of the austerity packages that were imposed in waves since 2010 to balance the country's public finances, under pressure from international bailout creditors. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Transport disruptions hit Greece as union protests cutbacks

November 28, 2018 - 4:49 am

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Train and island ferry services in Greece were suspended Wednesday and most Athens public transport was idle as the country's biggest labor union held a strike against persisting austerity measures.

The transport shutdown prompted Athenians to drive to work, causing major traffic jams in the capital whose center was shut down ahead of planned protest marches.

Police said about 5,000 members of a Communist party-affiliated labor union held a peaceful march to parliament, while a separate protest was planned shortly later.

The strike organized by the GSEE umbrella private sector union, which also includes many categories of civil servants, did not affect schools, hospitals or other core public services.

The unions want the left-led government to scrap key income and pension cuts imposed at the demand of international creditors during Greece's eight-year bailout program.

The program formally ended in August but the measures are expected to remain in place for years to ensure Greece can keep its budgets balanced and pay off its bailout debts.

Greece was forced to request the rescue loans in 2010 when it lost access to bond markets after the revelation that it had been under-reporting key financial data for years and was running a much bigger-than-expected budget deficit.

The GSEE's demands include restoring the minimum monthly salary to the pre-bailout level of 751 euros ($853), from the current 580 euros ($659).

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