Nov 6 - A new wave of public sector walkouts hits austerity-weary Greece, as the government holds talks with visiting troika officials over a 2 billion euro budget gap. David Pollard reports.
Greek cleaners were the first protesters of the day. They gathered outside the Finance Ministry to make their demands - before police moved in to try and clear them. Austerity fatigue is at the heart of the strikes. Wage cuts, pension cuts, health service cuts - and higher taxes - top the list of grievances. And job cuts. This cleaner is one of nearly 600 sacked by the government. SOUNDBITE (Greek) PROTESTING CLEANING WORKER, ANASTASIA NOMIKOU, 48, SAYING: "We have worked so long for them and put up with them and now they have fired us without a shred of mercy." Other union members braved the rain to march outside parliament. Their target - the government and visiting troika officials from the ECB, IMF and European Union. SOUNDBITE (Greek) GERASIMOS TSEKOURAS, PRESIDENT OF DEPARTMENT STORE WORKERS UNION, SAYING: "We can't take it anymore, Every day, the troika and the IMF unfortunately are destroying our wages, and we can't take care of our kids anymore. We are starting to have a problem with basic survival." Much of Greece was at a virtual standstill while the troika tried to work with the government. They're trying to patch a two billion euro gap in next year's budget plan. The troika wants more austerity reforms. The government says it can fill the gap through other measures. Despite the differences, many investors believe there's no acceptable alternative to paying the next tranche of bailout funds. Commerzbank's Peter Dixon. SOUNDBITE (English) PETER DIXON, ECONOMIST, COMMERZBANK, SAYING: "Nobody wants to be seen as the the bad boy who throws Greece out. I don't think Greece wants to leave because they realise that life on the outside could be even tougher than life within. As a consequence, we'll get a lot of haggling, we'll get a lot of concerns raised by both sides of the political spectrum but ultimately, I think, the troika will have to provide the funds to keep Greece afloat. " Either way Greece still faces a long march back to prosperity. Thousands of civil servants are to go by the end of the year. Adding even more people to a record unemployment queue.