Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mass strike in UK, riots in Greece

It's not clear how many government workers went on strike today in the UK, but it's a lot. Meanwhile, Greece approved a second austerity budget that will undoubtedly cause more violence.

NPR has the story about the UK:
The unions are saying hundreds of thousands of public workers have joined the strike, but the British government says its borders and air travel have been unaffected.
The Guardian reports that some 11,000 schools, however, have "either closed or cancelled lessons" because of the strike. The Guardian says the number of workers who joined the strike could be as high as 750,000 across the country.

As we reported yesterday, the strikes are just the latest protest against austerity measures in the country.
Here's al Jazeera's take:
British teachers, air traffic controllers, customs officers, and other civil servants are staging a one-day strike over plans to reform public sector pensions in one of the UK's biggest protests over proposed austerity cuts intended to slash the country's budget deficit.
Protestors are demonstrating in many British cities, including London, where thousands marched peacefully in the centre of the city, their route took them in front of the prime minister's office at 10 Downing street.
Mark Serwotka, head of the UK's biggest public sector union, said, “We’re striking now because the government has made it absolutely clear they intend to make our workers work eight years longer, pay thousands of pounds more and get half the pension they currently get.”
In Greece, reports Huffington Post,
Protests continue in Greece after lawmakers approved a new round of sweeping austerity measures amidst a general strike that has brought tens of thousands into the streets.
Riot police have fired volleys of tear gas, smoke bombs and stun grenades in a bid to clear the masses of Greek protesters surrounding the parliament in Athens....
"There's going to be a default right up the road, so they could default now and they could refuse to accept these conditions," says Mark Weisbrot, an economist and the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, on Democracy Now! today. "They may be better off for that, especially, if the result of what is going to play out is years of recession and high unemployment."