Greece protests: clashes over planned cuts
Updated on 01 May 2010
Protestors have hurled petrol bombs at riot police, as tens of thousands protested against the government's planned spending cuts. Channel 4 News business reporter John Sparks warns on the dangers if Greece goes bust.
There have been scenes of angry violence in Athens today where thousands of protestors marched in demonstration against the government's planned cuts.
Anarchists threw petrol bombs at lines of policemen, who used tear gas to further disperse the crowd.
The Greek government is preparing to announce strident spending cuts throughout the rest of the year.
Yesterday, the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said that "the top priority is the survival of the nation" as he warned parliament about the proposed cuts:
"The measures we must take are needed for the protection of our country. For our survival, for our future, so we can stand firmly on our feet."
Union members have said the new measures will raise taxes further and hit civil servants hard.
Greece - under new management
Over the last couple of weeks a large delegation from the IMF - the global lender of last resort - has been dictating terms in Athens, writes Channel 4 News business reporter John Sparks.
On the table at the country's finance ministry is a colossal loan of 120bn Euros - enough to keep Greece going for three years. But the price for that loan is very high indeed.
Many Greeks are unhappy that Mr Papandreou's government has already introduced a package spending cuts and tax rises. But the painful truth is that they are not enough. The money markets are not lending to Greece because it is considered too big a risk.
That is why the IMF, along with other eurozone nations, have organised a bailout. But only if the government pushes through another round of austerity measures.
The package, to be unveiled this weekend, will include:
- the second rise in VAT this year, to 23 per cent - public sector salaries cut by up to 20 per cent
- all public sector contract workers to lose their jobs
- a severe cut in pensions
- retirement age raised to 67 (average Greek retirement age is 53)
But if the country goes bust, the financial crisis could spread quickly.
The Foreign Office has said it is monitoring the situation but said there were no travel restrictions in place yet.
The latest advice says:
"Visitors should expect regular strikes and demonstrations throughout Greece during April and May.
"A 24-hour strike by private and public sector workers in Greece will take place on 5 May.
"There will be no flights to or from any Greek airport during this period. Passengers are advised to contact their airline for further information."
Twitter: Follow our Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jonathan Rugman in Athens on Twitter: @jrug