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Greek national strike over austerity

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Unions fear more tax rises and cuts in wages.

As the last holiday flights leave Greece and the Greek Islands at the end of a record season for tourists the country is plunged into chaos with a national strike.

A general strike of public and private sectors was taking place today for 24-hours with a possibility of street protests against continued austerity measures.

The Public Servant's Union and the General Confederation of Greek Labour have united in protest at new tax measures and proposed cuts to pensions.

Greek state hospitals and the ambulance services will operate with a skeleton staff but health centres are expected to close as the healthcare workers' union adds it weight to the strike.

There will be no international flights from noon to 3pm as the air traffic controllers walk out, causing delays and cancellations.

Public transport is expected to grind to a halt as workers join a 24-hour general strike with most bus and train services affected. There were no rail services yesterday and no Metro service from central Athens to the city's airport.

Ferries will also stay in port as the The Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) also joins the strike.

Union leader declared "The fight against austerity measures is our only hope in the wake of redundancy in the public and private sector and unprecedented new tax measures."

Traffic in Athens is forecast to be severely disrupted as roads are closed for protest marches.

The strike is expected to be accompanied by demonstrations in central Athens against a background of increased austerity as the finance minister submitted an amended 2013 budget that raised the country's debt and deficit forecasts for next year.

Although the Greek government has ruled out any more austerity measure Greek union leaders fear more tax rises and cuts in wages and pension meet bailout targets.

The IMF and European lenders have already bailed out the Greek economy twice with loans of €240 billion.

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