(by Oliver Smith, Telegraph.co.uk) – Hundreds of flights to and from Greece have been cancelled and transport across the country is at a standstill following the start of a 24-hour walkout by Greek workers.Air traffic controllers and bus, metro and rail workers went on strike at 10pm last night in a dispute over pay levels, financial support for low-income households and pension reforms.
The strike, which involves transport staff represented by the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) and the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY), follows four consecutive days of violent protests following the fatal shooting by police of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos on Saturday.
Banks, schools and hospitals have also been affected by the action.
“Participation in the strike is total, the country has come to a standstill,” said a spokesman for the GSEE.
All four airlines operating winter flights between Britain and Greece – British Airways, easyJet, Olympic Airlines and Aegean Airlines – have confirmed that all services in and out of the Mediterranean state have been suspended until the strike is over, at 10pm tonight.
A [British Airways] spokesman said that he was hopeful that the airline would resume a full schedule, without delays or any knock-on effect.
A spokesman for Olympic Airlines added that its services in and out of Greece should return to normal tomorrow.[British Airways] operates seven daily flights to Athens and Thessaloniki, while easyJet runs eight daily services.
Both airlines are offering refunds or rescheduled flights to affected passengers.
Violent demonstrations in Greece have spread from Athens – where some roads remain closed to the public – to Thessaloniki, Patras, Trikala, Ioannina, Corfu, Samos and Crete, prompting the Foreign Office to urge caution to holidaymakers planning on visiting Greece in December.
Protests have also taken place by Greek expatriates in London, Paris and Berlin.
A Foreign Office spokesman said that the protests were not a direct threat to travellers, but added that the situation could change and would be regularly reassessed.
Concerned travellers are advised to contact their airline or tour operator.
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1. Which workers have gone on a 24 hour walkout in Greece?
2. Why are the workers striking?
3. In addition to interrupted flights, what organizations in Greece have also been affected by the strikes?
4. Unrelated to the strikes, what violent protests have been taking place in Greece for four days? What caused the violence? (see “Background” below and some of the links under “Resources”)
5. Do any citizens ever have the right to express their anger toward the government/police by staging violent protests and destroying government and private property? Explain your answer.
6. Prime Minister Karamanlis had appealed to the workers not to strike while the violent protests are taking place. Do you think the workers made the right choice in striking during this time? Explain your answer.
The violent riots in Greece started following the fatal shooting of Alexis Grigoropoulos, a 15-year-old, who was among a group of youths who reportedly threw stones at a police car on Saturday night. The officer accused of killing him claims he fired warning shots, one of which accidentally ricocheted off the pavement, but witnesses insist he deliberately aimed at the boy. The incident took place in Athens’ Exarchia district, traditionally a hotbed of anarchism* and extreme leftist politics where walls are plastered with anti-government graffiti and Communist hammer and sickles.
*anarchist – 1: a person who rebels against any authority, established order, or ruling power
2: a person who believes in, advocates, or promotes anarchism or anarchy; especially : one who uses violent means to overthrow the established order (from Merriam-Webster online dictionary: M-W.com)
For background information on Greece, go to the CIA World FactBook website.
Go to worldatlas.com for a map of Greece.