France 24
May 12, 2010

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Thousands of Greeks have taken to the streets to show their rejection of the government’s proposed austerity measures, which are supposed to right the country’s flailing economy. Our Observer in Thessaloniki was in the middle of the protest there, along with his camera.

Craig Wherlock is a British expat based in Thessaloniki. He’s a teacher at a private school.

I think there were between eight and nine thousand people in the streets [7,000 according to the police]. Unlike in Athens however, there were no clashes here.

The marchers were mainly public sector workers as their unions, like the PAME [communist], are the most active. But there were also employees from the private sector amongst them. Everybody’s worried about the wage freeze, cuts to social benefits, an increase in VAT (from 19% to 21%) and the changing of the legal retirement age (currently 60 for women, 65 for men, but could be set at 67 for all).

People are really angry and feeling desperate. Most shop workers and even small factory employees aren’t registered and therefore have no social security. They work up to 50 or 60 hours per week for only 600 euros a month [Read Craig’s previous post on the high costs and low wages in Greece].

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