Demonstrators in Greece have clashed with riot police in the capital Athens today as angry street protests over the country's austerity measures turned nasty. Today's general strike is the first since the new government was installed back in June putting the new Prime Minister under even more intense scrutiny as he tries to seal the deal over proposed budget cuts to save the country from bankruptcy.
Fires raged in some parts of the city and hooded youths lobbed Molotov cocktails at police during running battles on the streets of the capital. Police used rubber bullets and tear gas to try and disperse the advancing crowds in scenes which echoed the violence that erupted during similar protests in Madrid yesterday .Thousands of people had taken to the streets from the early hours during 24 hours of action, organised by the country's two top unions – and which is hitting public sector and private businesses alike.
There was widespread travel disruption from the early hours: scores of flights were cancelled at Athens airport…. Ferries and ships were docked from midnight ….andtrains sat idly at stations in the capital too…
With the news that police are deploying 3,000 officers to protect parliament, the city braced itself for possible unrest. Shops in the centre of the city made the conscious (and profit-hitting) decision to not open their doors today.
Even the world-famous tourist attraction, the Acropolis, didn't escape the strike. And - with 90% of Greek people surveyed saying they believed the €12bn worth of cost cutting measures were unfair and will hurt the most vulnerable in their society – today's strike adds to the already massive pressure upon the Greek coalition to speedily reach an agreement with the Troika on the way forward to make sure the country survives.
Written and Presented by Marverine Cole