Travellers are set to face “chaos” in Greece as a result of 48 hours of general strikes across the country. Airports will shut down for periods as air traffic controllers are scheduled to strike for eight hours a day – four hours in the morning and four in the evening. The air traffic controller strikes follow wider strikes orchestrated by Greek trade unions in protest against Prime Minister George Papandreou’s austerity measures, which are due to be voted on in parliament this week.
It is thought that public transport will also be ground to a halt as a result of the strike action, which will see thousands of workers taking to the streets of Athens in protest. More than 5,000 police officers are being deployed in Athens to maintain the peace.
The air traffic controller strikes are due to take place between 0800 and 1200 local time, and 1800 and 2200 local time. Athens International Airport displayed a number of cancelled flights on its boards from 0730 this morning. The only operating public transport system in Athens will be the metro, which, according to the metro drivers will “allow Athenians to join the planned protests in the capital”.
Unions are encouraging the protests because they feel the Greece government’s austerity programme will impose further taxes on those earning minimum wage, following a host of prior cuts that have seen unemployment in the country rise to over 16%.
Spyros Papaspyros of ADEDY (The Greek Civil Servants’ Confederation) told the Reuters news agency: “We expect a dynamic and massive participation in the strike and the march to the centre of Athens. We will have 48 hours of working people, unemployed, young people in the streets”.