Greek Anger Rises as Economy Teeters

Posted June 9th, 2011 at 11:35 am (UTC-5)
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Angry Greeks are taking to the streets, demanding the government back off plans to save the economy by privatizing their government jobs.

Thousands of workers from state-run companies walked off their jobs Thursday, protesting in downtown Athens ahead of a key Cabinet meeting.

Prime Minister George Papandreou and his ministers are to approve new austerity measures that will raise taxes and shift some government services, including telephones and transportation, to private companies.

Some workers carried signs accusing the government of “selling out” the country. Mr. Papandreou and his top officials insist the measures are needed to prevent an economic collapse.

Greece has already staved off economic collapse once, rescued by last year's $158 billion bailout loan from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. Eurozone finance chief Jean-Claude Juncker said Thursday “it is obvious” Greece will need a second bailout in order to survive.

Economic reports show the Greek economy is stalling despite drastic cost-cutting measures and other reforms.

The country's statistics agency said Wednesday unemployment rose to more than 16 percent in March, up from the previous month. The unemployment rate among young people aged 15 to 24 is even higher – nearly 43 percent during the same month.

Opponents to additional government spending cuts have been holding daily protests across Greece, and there are calls for a general strike next week, on June 15.

The Greek government is also facing pressure from outside.

EU and IMF experts have been reviewing Greek progress on debt-cutting before approving the next planned $17 billion payment of the bailout package.