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Greek Workers Hold General Strike Over Cuts

Riot police pursued protesters, during a May Day demonstration in Athens on May 1.

Riot police pursued protesters, during a May Day demonstration in Athens on May 1.

Greek workers are holding a nationwide general strike to protest new major spending cuts the government is imposing in a bid to save the country from bankruptcy.

Flights into and out of Greece are being halted and many public services are also being shut down today as Greek public and private sector workers join together in the general strike.

Trade unions have announced major demonstrations in the center of Athens later today.

On May 4, demonstrators scuffled with riot police and broke into the ancient Acropolis citadel in Athens as public sector workers launched a 48-hour work stoppage in protest of the new austerity measures, which include tens of billions of dollars of tax increases, pension cuts, and wage freezes.

The government agreed to implement the measures in exchange for a 110 billion euro aid package from the IMF and Greece's European Union partners to help the government handle its debt crisis and avoid default.

Greek workers fear the spending cuts will come mostly at their expense.

The German parliament today began debate on a bill to approve Germany's contribution to the Greek rescue package.

In a speech to lawmakers, Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her unpopular decision to provide 22.4 billion euros of German taxpayers money toward the 110 billion euro rescue package agreed by Greece's partners in the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The German parliament is expected to vote on the bill to approve the bailout on May 7.

compiled from agency reports