Central Athens cordoned off for Labour Day

Greece braces itself for widespread Labour Day demonstrations against austerity

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Greek authorities have cordoned off much of central Athens ahead of planned Labour Day protests in the capital.

Protesters wielding SYRIZA banners in support of the ruling left-wing party turned up on Friday morning chanting slogans against Eurogroup creditors as intense negotiations to secure the release of funds from a bailout continue in Brussels.

The demonstrators were heard demanding SYRIZA keeps its pre-election promises to end the country’s debt crisis which has resulted in years of crippling austerity measures and huge lay-offs leaving Greece with one of the highest unemployment rates in the EU.

Private sector union General Confederation of Greek Labour is calling for the restoration of the minimum wage, which was abolished by the previous government, while civil servants’ union ADEDY turned up to protest against the "the return to a labor and social Middle Ages."

Thessaloniki and other major cities around the country are also braced for demonstrations as negotiators in Europe struggle to unlock the remaining €7.2 billion of a bailout, which will be held back until Greece can convince lenders it has drawn up a viable economic reform plan.

Failure to reach an agreement soon could result in Greece defaulting on its debt and possibly exiting the eurozone.

In recent weeks, the newly elected SYRIZA-led coalition has seen increasing anti-government riots in Athens as Greeks grow impatient for a deal.

Desperation to generate much-needed funds has also seen SYRIZA backtrack on its staunch policy against privatization, with plans to sell the Skouries gold mine in Halkidiki to Canadian mining firm Eldorado, angering workers who are protesting the deal

TRTWorld and agencies