Greek citizens have launched their first general strike of 2013 as they renew their protests against crippling austerity, meanwhile in Bulgaria the national government has resigned after a wave of violent anti-austerity demonstrations.
The 24-hour strike in Greece has forced the closure of schools and state run departments as well as leaving hospitals being forced to manage with only limited emergency staff cover. The protest comes ahead of Athens receiving its next batch of bailout funds.
The struggling nation continues to battle against its high debts and economic turmoil. In exchange for the bailout funds the increasingly unpopular government of Antonis Samaras has had o impose huge tax rises and slash jobs which has led to unemployment in the country soaring to a staggering 26%.
Violent protests have become common place since the advent of the crisis with some regions of the Greek capital looking like war zones as a result. The government may speak about the nation’s crisis coming to an end but the people on the street don’t believe the rhetoric.
“The (strike) is our answer to the dead-end policies that have squeezed the life out of workers, impoverished society and plunged the economy into recession and crisis,” the private sector union GSEE said in a statement.
“Our struggle will continue for as long as these policies are implemented,” it said.
A one-day visit by French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday went largely unreported because Greek journalists downed tools.
Meanwhile in Bulgaria, the nation’s government has resigned after nationwide protests against austerity and soaring electricity prices resulted in violent clashes. Up to twenty five protestors were hospitalised after clashing with police in the Bulgarian capital.
Prime Minister Boiko Borisov resigned saying; “”I will not participate in a government under which police are beating people,” Mr Borisov said.
“Every drop of blood is a shame for us,”
Unfortunately for protestors in Spain and Greece their governments don’t feel as guilty. Borisov added; “Our power was handed to us by the people, today we are handing it back to them. I cannot stand to look at a bloody Eagle’s Bridge’ a busy intersection in the heart of Sofia. ‘We did our best over these four years.”
The Bulgarian currency is pegged to the Euro and the nation hopes to join the Eurozone in 2015. After the government’s resignation and increasing public unrest this could no longer happen.
Current Euro exchange rates
As of 10:30 am
The Euro to Pound Sterling exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 0.8741
The Euro to US Dollar exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 1.3395
The Euro to Australian Dollar exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 1.2949
The Euro to New Zealand Dollar exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 1.5970