Greece is coming close to falling into complete anarchy!
THENS (Dow Jones)--Resistance to Greece's latest austerity measures mounted Tuesday with opposition lawmakers rejecting the government plan and the country's two major unions vowing a series of general strikes against the cuts.After meeting with the country's prime minister, opposition New Democracy party chief Antonis Samaras said he wouldn't support the package when it came to a vote in parliament, and charged that the measures would deepen Greece's recession and do little to close the country's budget gap.
"I am not prepared to consent to this demonstrably wrong policy," Samaras said in a televised statement.
The announcement knocked Greece's equity market, shaving a percentage point off an early rally in the Athens Stock Exchange, and also temporarily weakening the euro against the dollar.
The remarks came a day after Greece's cabinet broadly approved some EUR6 billion in new austerity measures to narrow Greece's budget deficit this year, as well as steps to speed up the government's ambitious privatization drive.
In the next 10 days, it will also detail a further EUR22 billion in new spending cuts and tax increases to bring the budget deficit below 1% of gross domestic product by 2015, from 10.5% last year.
In May last year, Greece narrowly avoided default with the help of a joint EUR110 billion bailout from its fellow euro-zone members and the International Monetary Fund in exchange for fixing its public finances and undertaking far reaching reforms.
But steep spending cuts and sharp tax increases taken since then have also hit the Greek economy--now in its third year of recession--with unemployment and business bankruptcies soaring.
On Tuesday, Greece's two main umbrella unions--private sector GSEE and public sector ADEDY--said they would stage a series of general strikes next month to oppose the government's latest austerity measures.
"As long as these catastrophic policies continue, we will continue with our strikes," said Stathis Anestis, spokesman for the 800,000 strong private sector union GSEE. "We are not talking about one strike, we are talking about more than one strike."
Officials at ADEDY confirmed that the two unions were looking at staging more than one general strike next month and that final decisions would be taken in the next few days.
Greece's smaller unions, especially in state-owned companies slated for privatizations have also voiced their opposition. Workers at Hellenic Postbank (GPSB.AT), where the government wants to sell-off its 34% stake this year, occupied the company's main premises earlier Tuesday and vowed to expand their protest Wednesday.
Likewise, workers at state-gambling monopoly OPAP SA (OPAP.AT), which is due to be privatized at the start of next year, have announced a 24-hour strike Wednesday.
Recently, Greece's militant power workers union, Genop, also threatened rolling 48-hour strikes opposing the new measures and plans to privatize the national utility, Public Power Corp. (PPC.AT).
-By Alkman Granitsas, Dow Jones Newswires; +30 210 331 2881; firstname.lastname@example.org