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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Grèce: "Stop, nous n’en pouvons plus"

by S.G.

Greece: "Stop! We can’t take any more"

Translated Thursday 21 February 2013, by Kristina Wischenkamper

Following François Hollande’s visit to Athens, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Greece on Wednesday as part of a general strike against further austerity measures that international creditors are preparing to put into place.

The widely deployed police force estimated that some 35,000 protesters were on the streets of Athens, and some 15,000 in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, in the north. According to the unions — GSEE for the private sector and Adedy for the public — the mobilization was to "fight against dead-end and anti-growth policies that have impoverished society and are sinking the economy into an abyss." The mobilization was equal to the last day of social protest in November.

"We are only just managing to survive"

"Stop! We can’t take any more" were the words on the trade unionist procession’s main banner, complemented by the radical left main opposition party — SYRIZA — distributing leaflets calling for the "imminent fall" of the government. In the crowd, Panayotis Kolovos, a young 25 year-old lawyer considers himself "lucky with at least one job, even if it only pays 600 euros." "We’re barely managing to survive", he told AFP. "Everyone I know is unemployed," says Alexandra Papadatou, 28 years old, a graduate in economics, and unemployed.

Unemployment has hit 27% of the active population; it stands at 60% among young people.

Six years of recession

As has become usual, the Communist trade union PAME marched separately under the slogan "No to modern penal servitude" to denounce the ongoing deregulation of the labour market which haemorrhages lower and lower wages.

Tractors were part of the cortège too signaling the anger of central Greek farmers protesting against rising taxes and a penury of credit.

According to a recent study, more than half of all households are threatened with insolvency. "All these measures [of austerity] have brought only misery", says 51 year-old Balayannis Dimitris, formerly in publishing, recently made redundant. In a country already slowed by six years of recession, the strike disrupted air, rail and city transport services and kept ferries to the islands firmly anchored in port, whilst hospitals, schools and services were on a go slow.

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