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Main Greek union calls general strike on February 20

31 January 2013, 18:47 CET
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(ATHENS) - Greece's main union on Thursday called a 24-hour general strike against austerity for February 20, ahead of a visit to Athens by auditors representing the country's international creditors.

"The brutal violation of fundamental working rights, such as the bloodsucking taxation imposed on the working population and pensioners, have exceeded every limit," private sector union GSEE said in a statement.

The union is asking for the signature and implementation of collective bargaining agreements, the adoption of effective measures to combat unemployment and the revocation of "undemocratic" measures taken against employees and syndicates.

Public sector union ADEDY, Greece's second main union, is also planning a general strike for next month but the date has yet to be decided on.

"It is very likely that our strike will take place on the same date as that of GSEE," an ADEDY representative told AFP.

Communist group Pame has called a strike for the same day as well.

Greece's coalition government insists there is no alternative to the harsh austerity programme that has been adopted in return for vital EU-IMF funds, necessary to avoid bankruptcy and get the country's economy back on track.

Successive cuts to salaries and pensions over the past three years, in a country that is entering a sixth year of continuous recession, have caused many protests.

In late February, auditors of the indebted country's creditors are expected to meet to assess Greece's implementation of its programme.

The International Monetary Fund announced on Thursday that it will send a staff mission to Athens in late February, to begin discussions with Greek and European officials.

The EU and IMF have committed 240 billion euros ($326 billion) overall in rescue loans to Greece since 2010.

But in mid-January the IMF's mission chief for Greece Poul Thomsen said Greece would need additional help from its European partners as soon as next year to bring its huge debt under control.

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