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Greece ground to a halt Tuesday as a 48-hour general strike began to bite while the bankruptcy-threatened government attempted to push through sweeping austerity cuts.
Apart from the metro, no public transport was operating in Athens and the streets were relatively empty, with many people deciding to stay away from work to join the fourth general strike called this year by the country's two biggest unions.
Subway employees decided not to strike so as to allow Athenians to join planned protests in the capital.
But banks were closed and hospitals were functioning on reduced staffing while at airports, dozens of domestic flights by Greek airlines Olympic Air and Aegean were cancelled as air traffic controllers went on strike.
In the port of Pireus, near Athens, which links most Greek islands with the mainland, the main seamen's union was not officially on strike, as the tourist season is just getting under way.
Nevertheless around 200 militants from a communist union and a port employees' union picketed to prevent ferries from leaving the port.
A string of rallies are planned for Tuesday, focused on Syntagma Square -- home to the Greek parliament and a magnet for tens of thousands of protesters who see the international community as imposing tough conditions for their bailouts.
"We think these measures and government policy are bad for workers in general. They are cutting salaries, they are cutting pensions and cutting social services. In fact they are taking money off workers to give it to banks and big business," a port employee and unionist told AFP.
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