"No More Belt-tightening!", Greeks Protest Austerity Cuts

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Employees from public and private sector unions in Greece hold a protest march against further austerity measures. International inspectors are due in Athens this week to discuss a crucial second bailout for Greece and they say Greece's labor force must become more competitive and flexible.

Thousands of angry Greek workers filled the streets of Athens on Tuesday as part of a 24-hour walkout against government austerity measures.

The protest was held as European Union and International Monetary Fund inspectors were due back in the capital for discussions on a second bailout for Greece.

Many public and private sector workers have been hard hit by tax hikes and spending cuts which were part of a first bailout agreed in 2010.

They fear more austerity and wage cuts with the second bailout and say they cannot take any more belt-tightening.

[Kostas Tsikrikas, President of the Confederation of Civil Servants]:
"We demand another policy that will support the worker, that will be humane and will concentrate on his needs, that it will respect labour laws and does not bow to speculators and markets."

The EU, IMF and European Central Bank inspectors -- known as the troika -- who are expected back in Athens as early as this week, say the private sector labour force must become more flexible to increase Greece's competitiveness.

The latest review plays a key role in Greece receiving the second package of financial aid, which it needs to keep from going bankrupt.

Measures also include opening several professions up to more competition.

Until now private sector wages have been untouched by the government's austerity measures - but jobs in the private sector have been lost and some employers have cut wages independently...

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