Greece unrest
 Tbilisi 12:16 - 20.10.11 «GHN»
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Greece is braced for a second day of a general strike and mass protests as parliament takes a final vote on tough new austerity measures, - BBC reported.

Running battles between police and some protesters continued overnight in Athens after tens of thousands demonstrated against the cuts.

The measures, including tax hikes and pay cuts, are needed to convince the EU and IMF to continue bailout loans.

Greece is saddled with a huge public debt and an economy in deep recession.

The 48-hour general strike is due to continue on Thursday with workers in virtually every sector of the economy participating.

Air traffic controllers went back to work after a 12-hour stoppage on Wednesday, allowing international and domestic flights to resume.

But civil servants, shopkeepers, dock workers, taxi drivers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, construction workers and others were due to continue the industrial action.

Parliament is expected to approve the articles of an austerity bill after giving it preliminary approval in a first vote late on Wednesday by a margin of 154-141 of the 300 deputies.

At least 100,000 people demonstrated against the measures in Athens on Wednesday. Protesters have said they will rally again on Syntagma Square in front of the parliament while the vote takes place.

The bill includes plans for further cuts to pensions and salaries and temporary lay-offs of 30,000 public sector workers.

Some of Prime Minister George Papandreou's ruling socialist party deputies have threatened not to vote for some of the bill's articles.

With Greece unable to borrow long term on international bond markets to finance its debt, the EU and IMF have stepped in with two bailout packages.

But they have demanded tough action to cut the deficit, which has angered many in Greece who say the medicine is killing the patient.

"We just can't take it any more. There is desperation, anger and bitterness," Athens area union official Nikos Anastasopoulos told Associated Press news agency.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos described the choice as between a "difficult situation and a catastrophe".

"We have to explain to all these indignant people who see their lives changing that what the country is experiencing is not the worst stage of the crisis," he said.

"It is an anguished and necessary effort to avoid the ultimate, deepest and harshest level of the crisis."

Associated News
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