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News blackout hits Greece as journalists launch 24-hour strike

Athens - Greece was under a 24-hour news blackout as journalists launched work stoppages Tuesday as part of a wave of anti-government rallies against social security reforms.

The strike, which is to also include a march in downtown Athens, is to disrupt newspaper production, radio and television news broadcasts and internet news sites across the country.

Journalists are opposed to government plans to merge their pension fund with those of other professions.

The powerful journalist union said it would also join doctors, nurses, bank workers, teachers, transportation workers and civil servants in a nationwide general strike on December 12 in a clear sign to the conservative government of worker dissatisfaction.

Thousands of schoolteachers marched through the Greek capital Monday, calling on the government, which was re-elected only two months ago, to increase funding for the public school system and shelve planned reforms, which they said would raise retirement ages while cutting benefits to millions of future retirees.

Unions are also protesting plans to merge about 150 pension funds into fewer than 10 and raise monthly contributions.

The strikes followed last week's presentation of the 2008 budget to parliament. It foresees controlled public spending, a further lowering of the deficit and higher taxes.

The conservative government under the leadership of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is under pressure to reform the country's ailing pension system, which runs the risk of going bankrupt in 20 years because of an ageing population and low birth rate.

Date posted: November 27, 2007 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 89