Greek protest strikes empty petrol supplies

Petrol stations ran dry in Greece today as a customs strike over government austerity measures began to bite.

Customs staff initially walked out for three days on Tuesday over salary freezes and cuts in bonuses.

But yesterday their union declared three 48-hour rolling strikes that will keep customs offices shut until next Wednesday, when all workers are being asked to join a general strike.

The customs walkout has hampered imports and exports, but the supply of fuel has been the most affected.

Many service stations in Athens had run out of all fuel, while those that were still open were rationing supplies with a €22 limit per customer. Traffic police were called to some as cars queued for hundreds of yards.

Taxis also held a 24-hour strike today over parts of the austerity package that increased fuel tax and will force them to issue receipts.

Greek unions have been opposing the new Socialist government’s harsh austerity measures, which were imposed in an effort to pull the country out of its worst debt crisis in decades – one that has seen its deficit swell to a massive 12.7% of economic output.

European finance ministers warned Athens this week that it would have to impose even tougher budget cuts if its current measures do not manage to reduce the deficit to 8.7% this year.

Athens has until March 16 to report back to the EU on its progress.

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