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Workers call general strike in Greece to protest austerity

The 24-hour general strike was called in response to unpopular austerity measures, which are widely expected to pass in parliament.

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An eldery demonstrator holds a Greek flag in front of the parliament during a general strike in Athens on July 16, 2013. A general strike gripped Greece on July 16 for the fourth time this year as unions railed at fresh austerity measures the government is imposing in order to keep receiving EU-IMF loans. (ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Thousands participated in a 24-hour strike in Greece Tuesday, protesting unpopular new austerity measures tied to $9 billion in rescue loans.

Over 30,000 protesters gathered in front of the Parliament building in Athens, voicing their displeasure with a new scheme that will see state workers either transferred away or fired from their jobs, in an overhaul of the Greek Civil Service.

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The changes must be made as part of an austerity package linked to $9 billion in rescue loans approved by euro zone finance ministers. They are expected to make their way through the 300-seat parliament when it comes to a vote on Wednesday. 

Over 4,000 employees, including teachers and government workers, could find themselves subject to dismissal under the overhaul of the Civil Service, with another 11,000 potentially affected in 2014.

They will be subject to an 8-month "redeployment" period at 75 percent of their salaries, and could be made redundant if they aren't transferred elsewhere.

"We are not opposed to reform. What we do oppose is abolishing entire institutions like the municipal police and personnel to guard state schools,'' Costas Askounis, leader of the protesting Central Union of Municipalities, told the BBC. 

Trade unions called the strike, which has affected air travel, health care, and public transportation as thousands of workers have left their jobs and taken to the streets. Even the Acropolis was forced to close to tourists early. 

"It feels like Greece is dead and now the vultures are fighting over its corpse," protestor Eleni Fotopoulou told Reuters during the protests. "I'm not angry anymore, I am disgusted. We have to fight back."

Protesters are expected to take to the streets on Thursday as well, greeting German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble with their complaints about the austerity measures some believe Germany is largely responsible for imposing on them. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/130716/workers-call-general-strike-greece-protest-austerity