Trade unions on Tuesday reported large-scale participation on the first day of a 48-hour nationwide strike against the latest package of austerity cuts and new taxes.
According to the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) and the civil servants' union federation ADEDY - the two umbrella trade union organisations representing the majority of the countrys work force in the private and public sectors - participation in the strike ranged from 90 to 100 percent in all sectors.
They claimed full participation in the strike at shipyards, the transport sector, ships and ports, while there was 90 percent participation among construction, hotel, commerce and metal workers.
Two rallies were held in central Athens, one organised by GSEE and ADEDY at Pedion tou Areos and another organised by the Communist Party-affiliated trade union group PAME in Omonia Square.
Among those at the GSEE-ADEDY rally was main opposition Syriza party Alexis Tsipras, who called for an immediate snap election and launched harsh criticism against the coalition government.
"The three-party consortium has converted Parliament into a chamber for the ratification of the troika's proposals and has turned the country over to its creditors," Tsipras said.
The PAME rally in Omonia was attended by Communist Party (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga, who called for "systematic and well-organised disobedience and refusal to conform, not just with the government's decisions but with the system in general".
After the end of the GSEE-ADEDY rally, roughly 40,000 protestors marched to Parliament in order to present a protest resolution to the Parliament president and representatives of the political parties.
The strike will continue on Wednesday, when trade unions will hold another rally at Syntagma Square beginning at 5pm.
According to sources, trade unions are also gearing up for work stoppages on November 14, a day of strike action throughout Europe.
Protest rallies and marches against the omnibus bill and the new austerity measures were also held in towns and cities in other areas of Greece on Tuesday, including Hania and Iraklio on the island of Crete and Thessaloniki.
The rallies and marches on Tuesday were held against a backdrop of strike action that had virtually paralysed Athens' public transport system and included buses, trains, trams and taxis. Flights were disrupted due to an air-traffic controllers' work stoppage, while journalists followed up a 24-hour strike on Monday with a work stoppage and news blackout from 10am to 2.30pm on Tuesday.
State hospitals were working with a skeleton staff, courts were closed, while lawyers and civil engineers were continuing a protracted abstention from official business. Other unions that held strikes included those of high-school teachers, dentists, public utility companies, seamen and even retailers.
Strike action will continue throughout the country on Wednesday, with the Metro and ISAp electric railway running from 3pm till the end of the shift to facilitate participation of strikers in the 5pm rally on Syntagma Square.
The government on Monday tabled in parliament the long-awaited austerity package containing a €13.5bn mix of cuts and tax hikes. MPs will now debate the legislation in a fast-track procedure that will end in a roll-call vote on Wednesday night. Then, on Sunday, parliament will vote on the draft budget for 2013. (Athens News/dv, AMNA)