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Greek seamen, journalists protest austerity measures ahead of general strike

Greek seamen and journalists have walked off their jobs ahead of a nationwide general strike to protest new austerity measures in the cash-strapped country.

The 48-hour strike by seamen, which started on Tuesday, has left ferries servicing the country’s islands tied up in port.

Journalists also started their own 24-hour industrial action which pulled news broadcasts off the air from 03:00 GMT. No newspapers will also be published on Wednesday as journalists have put a pause on reportage.

The protests come in support of a general strike called by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) and the Executive Civil Servants’ Associations (ADEDY) on May 17.

The strike will affect services, including schools, hospitals and public transport. Air traffic controllers have also declared participation with a four-hour work stoppage.

On May 6 and 7, people in Greece launched a similar strike to protest against government-proposed legislation to increase Sunday trading hours. Members of the PAME communist labor union alongside others representing small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are against the new reforms demanded by Greece’s international creditors.

The strikers are outraged by Greece’s new deal with its international creditors, namely the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, under which a raft of new tax hikes and spending cuts will be imposed beyond the end of its third bailout in 2018.

On May 2, Athens and the so-called troika of international lenders reached a preliminary agreement that would pave the way for long-awaited debt relief talks. The deal came ahead a 22 May meeting of eurozone finance ministers, which is required to approve the deal.

A compromise is needed to unblock a tranche of loans Greece needs for debt repayments of €7bn ($7.6bn) in July.

The negotiations are meant to keep Athens’ EUR86-billion ($93.74 billion) bailout deal with the troika on track. The 2015 agreement was the third of its kind in five years.

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