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Greek Strike Under Way Over Closure Of State Broadcaster

Greek workers have begun a nationwide strike to protest the sudden closure of the state television and radio broadcaster.

City buses, trains and ferries stopped running on June 11 and only emergency services were available in hospitals.

Public offices were closed across the country, and newspapers did not publish.

Air traffic controllers are striking for part of the day. The strike was called by the country's two largest labor unions.

Late on June 11, the government suspended broadcasting by Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) transmissions, saying it was grossly mismanaged and wasted money.

The closure left more than 2,600 employees without jobs.

On June 12, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras reiterated his government’s pledge that ERT will resume operations again, but that it will be run in a different way.

"We will create a new TV broadcaster, in line with contemporary models. Those that are resisting are not supporters of state television, they are supporting the ERT of the past," Samaras said. "We are getting rid of an entity that lacked transparency, that was full of waste, and some people are disturbed by this because they want this to continue, this lack of transparency and waste. We are protecting the public interest at a time that people think they own state wealth. This all belongs in the past. With the bill that we proposed today, the foundations are being created for the most radical, the most democratic reform that has ever taken place for public media in our country."

Greek labor unions have denounced the decision as a "coup-like move" and an assault on media freedom.

The move has also caused tensions in Greece’s already volatile politics, with socialist and moderate leftist parties in the coalition government calling the closure unacceptable.

Greece faces demands to impose spending cuts and tax hikes in exchange for a 240 billion-euro ($315 billion) bailout package by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The government has pledged to cut 15,000 public sector jobs in exchange for the bailout.

The broadcaster was reported to cost the government some 300 million euros per year.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP