GREECE–Government days are numbered

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ATHENS riot police were firing rubber bullets and tear gas at workers and youth near to the Athens parliament building during yesterday’s general strike.

Clashes erupted during the first trade-union-led general strike action since the conservative-led coalition came to power in June.

An estimated 100,000 people have joined the protests in the various Greek cities, while 70,000 marched in Athens.

Yesterday’s strike brought the whole country to a standstill, with doctors, teachers, tax workers, ferry operators and air traffic controllers all joining the strike.

Banks and historic sites in Athens remained shut on Wednesday, with many shopkeepers expected to close up early so they could attend demonstrations.

Schools and government services also closed down.

Demonstrators wearing helmets and gas masks and armed with sticks clashed with police in the Greek capital.

The clashes occurred after more than 70,000 people marched to parliament chanting: ‘We won’t submit to the troika’ and ‘EU, IMF Out!’

The strikes were called by the country’s two biggest unions representing half the four-million-strong workforce.

Officials estimated the demonstration was the largest since a May 2011 protest, and among the biggest since Greece first resorted to aid from international lenders in 2010.

‘We can’t take it anymore – we are bleeding. We can’t raise our children like this,’ said groups of marching women.

‘These tax hikes and wage cuts are killing us,’ said others.

One worker said: ‘With this strike we are sending a strong message. The government’s days are numbered.’

About 3,000 police stood guard in the centre of Athens.

A survey conducted last week found that more than 90% of Greeks believed the planned cuts were unfair and a burden on the poor.

Workers in Athens yesterday were clearly of a mind that this government has to be brought down, using any means that are necessary.