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Mass strike paralyzes Greece

GREEK public services closed down and transport was disrupted across the country yesterday as thousands of workers went on strike to protest government spending cuts.

Up to 10,000 people marched peacefully through central Athens shouting "No compromise! Capitalism must pay for the crisis!" in the protest.

About another 10,000 took part in a separate demonstration to parliament held later by the country's two biggest umbrella unions, GSEE and ADEDY, representing the private and public sectors. That protest also ended peacefully.

The nationwide general strike shut down all government offices and state schools, while state hospitals functioned with emergency staff.

Air traffic controllers held a three-hour work stoppage, halting all flights to and from Greek airports.

The country's largest airline, Olympic Airways, canceled 140 flights.

Most ferry and railway schedules were also canceled, while public transport in Athens was disrupted.

Journalists joined the strike, keeping news programs off the air and preventing today's papers from being published.

About 8,000 people also demonstrated in the northern city of Thessaloniki in two separate marches.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' conservative government this month announced a salary freeze for many civil servants and a one-off tax increase on higher-income earners.

The move angered unions, which said high-earning businesses should shoulder the burden.


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