Greek police fire tear gas at protesting youths in Athens
Greek police fired tear gas to disperse a group of youths throwing sticks during a protest by thousands in central Athens against cuts as part of an EU loan bailout.
The rally in Syntagma Square in front of the parliament came ahead of a key vote tomorrow on the tough five-year plan for tax increases and spending cuts.
Greece must pass the austerity measures, if it is to win the last €12bn portion of a €120bn bailout package from other European nations that was granted in 2010 -- and also to clear the way for a second bailout deal to keep Greece from defaulting on its debts.
A 48-hour general strike kicked off in the early morning hours, stifling most of Greece's transportation systems, but it also cleared the streets and freed up workers to participate in demonstrations.
Members of the communist PAME labor union took to the streets first, waving socialist signs in front of the Greek Parliament.
Cloth banners reading "No sacrifices for plutocracy" flapped in chorus with chants of: "Workers, you can live without a boss," and "We want workers' rights not profits for the boss!"
Government offices, schools and courts have closed, while hospitals are operating on a skeleton staff, according to Greek state television broadcaster ERT. Transportation disruptions are planned on land, on sea and in the air.