Greek public workers to strike over deal

  • 14/07/2015
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (Reuters)
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (Reuters)

Greece's public servants are being called to stage a 24-hour strike for Wednesday (local time), the day their country's parliament is to vote on reforms needed to unlock a crucial eurozone rescue.

Their union, Adedy, called for the stoppage in a statement issued on Monday, saying it was to show their opposition to the outline agreement with the eurozone. It will also urge the civil servants to take part in a demonstration against the reforms scheduled to take place in front of parliament late on Wednesday.

This will be the first strike to happen under the six-month-old government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who is head of the radical left coalition Syriza.

Before coming to power, Syriza participated in stoppages and demonstrations against austerity in 2010 and 2014 which previous conservative governments voted for.

Demonstrations were already to take place in Athens late on Monday against the latest reform package, which requires parliament to back tax hikes and pension cuts in return for the eurozone bailout worth up to 86 billion euros, and against the euro. Without the loan, Greece's economy is likely to shatter, with exit from the euro a very real possibility.

To secure the rescue, Tsipras is going to have to win parliamentary backing, maybe relying on opposition votes if many of his Syriza MPs rebel.

Syriza and its junior coalition partner, the Independent Greeks, are to hold separate meetings on Tuesday to study the reform package.

The International Monetary Fund says it is prepared to work with Greece and European Union partners to advance the third bailout effort for the country.

The deal struck with European leaders in Brussels on Monday requires an IMF role to join in supporting and monitoring the Greek economy, even as the Fund's current loan program has been suspended since the country defaulted on a 1.5 billion euros payment at the end of June.

"The IMF stands ready to work with the Greek authorities and the European partners to help move this important effort forward," Fund spokesman Gerry Rice said in a statement on Monday, after the provisional deal was announced.

Greece is supposed to pay the Fund another 500 million euros by the end of Monday, and is expected to miss that payment as well as it awaits full, formal approval of the new bailout, which is contingent in the first place on the Greek government taking several specific reform actions by Wednesday.

According to the agreement released by the European summit, a confirmed deal would bring a quick release of several billion euros which Athens could use to make good on obligations to the IMF "in the coming weeks," allowing the Fund to restart the loan program that goes through March 2016.

The new deal requires Greece to then ask for a new financial support program from the IMF beyond that date, in parallel with the new funds being committed by European creditors.