Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fighting erupts at mass rally over Greece austerity bill

Rioters have fought other protesters in Athens where thousands of people are rallying outside parliament to condemn a new round of cuts.

Stones and petrol bombs were hurled and fire extinguishers set off as masked youths battled communist-backed trade unionists near luxury hotels.

The trade unionists, who were tasked with keeping at the rally, appeared to charge back, wielding sticks.

The country is into the second day of a 48-hour general strike.

The Socialist-dominated parliament is expected to give final approval to a new austerity bill on Thursday, after giving it preliminary approval in a first vote late on Wednesday by a margin of 154-141 of the 300 deputies.

The bill, which includes tax hikes and pay cuts, is needed to secure EU and IMF bailout loans.

Civil servants, shopkeepers, dock workers, taxi drivers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, construction workers and others were all due to take part in the strike, which began on Wednesday. more