General strike, anti-austerity protests paralyse Greece
Greek trade unions on Wednesday held a general strike to protest a new round of planned spending cuts by the conservative-led coalition government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, dpa reported.
It is the first nationwide strike since Samaras took office in June.
Mass protests are also planned against the cuts of some 11.5 billion euros (15 billion dollars) demanded by international creditors in exchange for bailout loans.
The strike was called by Greece's two biggest unions, which represent half of the workforce.
It will affect schools, air traffic, ports and government offices. Museums and major archaeological sites turned tourists away. Shops were also closed.
More than a dozen domestic and international flights have been cancelled or rescheduled after air traffic controllers called a three hour work stoppage. Petrol station owners said they would remain shut for most of the day.
Hospitals will operate on emergency staff as doctors joined the strike, which is expected to bring out thousands of Greeks to the streets in central Athens and in the northern port city of Thessaloniki to protest the austerity measures.
The European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), collectively known as the troika, have demanded the cuts in exchange for releasing more bailout funds for Greece.
The cuts will mainly affect wages, pensions and welfare benefits