Strike hits Greece as auditors mull further cuts

Strike hits Greece as auditors mull further cuts

ATHENS - A general strike hit Greece on Wednesday, paralysing public services and disrupting transport as EU-IMF auditors worked to finalise the recession-hit country's next budget, looking to eliminate a fiscal shortfall that could bring more unpopular cuts.

Defying pouring rain, some 4,000 members of the Communist-affiliated union PAME marched to central Syntagma square, police said.

Another 1,000 protesters gathered outside the offices of the biggest union GSEE but the main demonstration was scrapped due to the weather.

"It is an unfortunate occurrence, the protest will not take place owing to the weather conditions," a GSEE spokeswoman said.

Similar protests are being held in Greece's second city Thessaloniki, with some 10,000 demonstrators taking part, according to police.

The latest strike this year by the country's main unions shut down the civil service as well as train and ferry services nationwide.

Hospitals were operating on reduced staff and several flights were cancelled because of work stoppages by civil aviation staff.

Journalists also staged a five-hour walkout to 1300 GMT.

GSEE, which represents the private sector, said workers were "carrying on their struggle against pointless austerity policies".

"The government and (creditors) are talking about fiscal gaps and deficits. But they don't say that the big gap is in the social state and society," GSEE chairman Yiannis Panagopoulos said in a statement.

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