July 16 (Bloomberg) -- Greek labor unions held their third general strike of the year as lawmakers in Athens began a two-day debate on legislation demanded by creditors to cut thousands of civil-service jobs.
Government services were shut and transport disrupted today as about 18,000 protesters marched to parliament in central Athens, according to police estimates. No clashes occurred between police and protesters, police spokesman Takis Papapetropoulos said. Civil-aviation workers held a four-hour work stoppage prompting flight delays and cancellations.
Lawmakers from the main opposition Syriza party at one point left the parliament to unfurl a banner in front of the building’s main entrance which read: “No to job cuts in the private and public sectors.”
Greek stocks and bonds gained today, with the 10-year yield falling 7 basis points to 10.5 percent and the main stock index adding 1 percent at 2:55 p.m. in Athens.
The strike is the latest challenge from unions to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, whose bill includes provisions to push through a plan to put 25,000 public employees on notice for possible dismissal. His government must pass the measures for the country’s euro-area and International Monetary Fund creditors to sign off on the next loan disbursements from Greece’s 240 billion-euro ($314 billion) bailout.
The unions have also called for a rally outside the parliament building tomorrow evening as the debate on the bill approaches its climax. A roll-call vote will come around midnight, hours before the scheduled visit of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.
About 4,200 teachers, school janitors and employees at the Administration Reform and E-Governance Ministry will be placed in a “reallocation program” by the end of July. They will be joined in September by as many as 8,300 municipal police officers under the plan, which aims to deploy surplus staff to areas with needs. Employees will have to accept any job offer provided or face dismissal.
Senior euro-area financial officials plan a conference call on July 24 to discuss the latest bailout payment, a European Union official said today on condition of anonymity.
Samaras’s coalition was shaken last month after the departure of the Democratic Left Party following the closure of state broadcaster ERT. Samaras’s New Democracy party must now rely on its historic rival, the socialist Pasok party. The two control 155 of the Greek parliament’s 300 seats.
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