Friday, February 10, 2012

Traveler's Update: 48-Hour Strike in Athens May Cause Frustration for Inbound Visitors

For the benefit of our readers, the CSEE and Adedy unions embarked on a 48-hour strike in Athens earlier today (February 10) against new austerity measures to go before Parliament and required by the European Union and the IMF in exchange for badly needed aid.

It should be noted that these two unions claim a combined membership of over million members--in a country of 10 million.

As a result of the strike, bus, metro and trolley services came to an abrupt end, leaving many in the capital in a lurch.

COMMENT: Greece's three-party coalition agreed yesterday (February 9) to a new wave of labor-related cuts to pave the way for a 130 billion euro bailout before a loan repayment on March 20 which Athens cannot meet without assistance.

The measures reportedly include a 22% cut in the minimum wage, a 15% cut in complementary pensions and 15,000 civil service redundancies to meet a target of 150,000 layoffs by 2015.

Although protests and street violence borders on being a national pastime in Greece, the reality is that without the bailout, Greece will default and potentially place the entire euro-zone in jeopardy, which could have a catastrophic effect on markets worldwide.

There are many observers that firmly believe that many of the euro-zone countries that recently had their credit ratings downgraded by Standard & Poor's add to the possibility of the euro becoming an endangered species.

Yet, a preferred course of action would be to oust those nations that are so far underwater that they will only pull the member nations deeper from air, so that the euro's financial plight can be stabilized, and not jeopardize global markets.

The bottom line is that whether the Greek unions disrupt commerce or not, without the EU/IMF bailout, Greece will collapse.

In light of the 48-hour strike, inbound travelers may wish to consider deferring their arrival until February 13.

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