Greek workers shut schools and forced hospitals to work on emergency staff on Wednesday (September 18) at the start of a 48-hour strike against the government's latest plans to fire thousands of public sector staff.

Efforts to rein in the 600,000-strong civil service, long seen as spendthrift and corrupt, have been met with resistance from labour unions who say the scheme will only worsen the plight of Greeks enduring a sixth year of recession.

Called by the public sector umbrella union ADEDY, the latest action comes days before the "troika" of European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund lenders visits Athens to check what progress it has made on promised reforms.

Athens must put a total of 25,000 workers in a so-called "mobility scheme" by the end of the year, to be either transferred to other government jobs or dismissed. It must also meet a target of 15,000 mandatory job cuts in 2013-2014.

Officials say the move will save taxpayers millions of euros.

But workers, despite being angered by the layoffs, fear that the transfers will also result in layoffs after gaps are filled and evaluations take place. Hospitals are also being merged which may result in layoffs.

The troika has bailed out Greece to the tune of €240 billion (£200 billion) but has warned that it will stop paying out the money unless Athens pushes forward with reforming a corruption-prone state apparatus where hiring is often driven by political patronage.

Presented by Adam Justice