Greek workers joined a general strike against austerity on Wednesday as their government tried to renegotiate the terms of its bailout.
The European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed a 110 billion euro bailout for Greece last year. But the attached austerity measures have further wrecked the economy.
It is unlikely to raise the billions of euros on the financial markets it needs next year.
Its credit rating has been cut to junk status, meaning it will be hugely expensive to borrow money on the markets.
So it wants to renegotiate the terms of its original agreement. This will cause ructions across the EU.
Workers continue to challenge the austerity consensus of those at the top of society.
“Before Wednesday, many people said that it was going to be one of the biggest general strikes yet,” said Panos Garganas, editor of the Workers Solidarity newspaper in Greece.
“It is a year since the IMF came to Greece and we saw a huge strike against it. The IMF bailout is not working and the crisis has spread to Ireland and Portugal.
“The government needs loans of 50 to 60 billion euros to get through the next couple of years. And the IMF and European Central Bank are pushing for it to sign up to even tougher measures.
“The centrepiece of this is a programme of sell-offs, such as the power company.
“There has been a series of general strikes and other mobilisations in defence of services.
“There is infighting in the cabinet and speculation that we might be heading towards new elections. Few people believe that the government will survive to the end of its term in two and a half years’ time.”