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Europe

Soldiers, police, judges, teachers join Greek austerity protests

media Officers from Greece's military and fire brigade officers take part in … Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis

It seems that Greeks are succumbing to austerity fatigue. For many months now, successive Greek governments have cut salaries and pensions, increased taxes and slashed public spending where it really hurts: hospitals and medicines, education and infrastructure.

The result has been mass unemployment, overwhelmingly from the private sector, as more and more shops and small enterprises go belly-up. As a consequence, people consume less and pay less in taxes and social security contributions, so public finances deteriorate further.

Another result has been a dramatic increase of the number and severity of crimes committed. Yet public money spent on policing and justice is earmarked for further cuts. The defence budget will also be slashed, in spite of the fact that members of the armed forces are frequently called in to help patrol the borders or fight large forest fires.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

So, for Greeks, this is shaping up to be the winter of their discontent.

For the first time in recent memory, police officers, firefighters and coastguards, together with officers and petty officers from the army, navy and air force, demonstrated in uniform in the centre of Athens against new pay cuts.

Also for the first time in a generation, judges walked away from their benches, protesting the reduction of the justice budget.

They were joined this week by teachers and doctors as well as employees of the Athens metro. Next Wednesday, 26 September, the General Confederation of Workers and the Association of Public Servants’ Unions have called another general strike.

How successful will it be?

Many analysts point out that Greeks do not have the luxury of yet another day away from work.

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