Greek workers have taken to the streets in the capital, Athens, to protest against the government’s new austerity measure that mandates them to work on Sundays.
Some 17 trade unions took part in the demonstration to express opposition to the government’s decision, which also liberalizes trade laws. Under the new bill, passed by the government late on Tuesday, collective labor contracts and the eight-hour working shifts will be amended to force more trade even on the only holiday in the week, the Sundays. Similar demonstration was also held in several other Greek cities, with protesters saying that the bill will abolish decades-old labor rights. The bill was drafted by the country’s Labor Ministry as demanded by the troika of international lenders, the European Union (EU), the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Greek lawmakers recently decided to pursue mass lay-offs in the civil service, pushing thousands of state employees into unemployment. On July 8, the international lenders announced plans to release EUR 7 billion (USD 9.2 billion) in financial aid for Greece. However, in order to receive the approved rescue funds, Greece must stick to the agenda of either transferring or laying off 12,500 civil servants, including Athens’ municipal police officers, teachers and school security personnel, by the end of this year. Greece has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis and is experiencing its fifth year of recession.