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Greek transport, media workers open week of strikes

An empty rail station in Athens. Greece's government introduced a new austerity bill needed to get a creditor lifeline for the cash-strapped nation, where public transport and media workers went on strike to protest the new cuts.

Public transport and media workers opened a week of strikes in Greece on Monday, contesting fresh austerity measures needed for a lifeline from creditors which are due to be presented by the government to parliament.

The metro in Athens was shut and only one tram line ran on Monday, while taxi drivers halted services, severely disrupting traffic in the capital.

The country was also hit by a media blackout as print, broadcast and electronic media journalists walked out in a 24-hour strike.

Service at hospitals was slow as only some employees turned up to work.

The union of the public electricity company DEI meanwhile announced renewable 48-hour strikes from Monday evening.

The walk-out is expected to intensify throughout the country on Tuesday and Wednesday as public union GSEE and private union Adedy have both called general strikes.

Bus workers are expected to join the stoppage from Tuesday, halting public transport service completely in Athens, while ferry lines to surrounding islands would be cut for 48 hours.

A three-hour work stoppage on Tuesday has also been announced by air traffic controllers.

In addition, unions have planned demonstrations from Tuesday in the centre of Athens against the package of 18 billion euros ($23 billion) in cuts and other reforms, which is to be voted on Wednesday by parliament.

The new savings plan includes salary and retirement cuts, reductions in civil servant staffing, and further measures on labour market deregulation.

Implementing the austerity plan is a pre-condition for Greece to unlock a 31.5 billion euro tranche of bailout package from the European Union, International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank or risk bankruptcy in mid-November.