Hundreds of Greek hotel workers have gone on a 24-hour strike in Athens to protest against austerity measures that are feared to slash their wages by up to 40 percent.
A few hundred waiters, cleaners, chefs and administrators marched on Saturday past the national parliament in central Athens, in what they described as the beginning of their campaign ahead of the country’s tourism high season.
The strikers complain that, while the terms of the country's Euro bailout have destroyed their collective power to bargain for wages, possible cuts of up to 40 percent could make it even harder for their families to survive the crisis.
“We are going to have further strikes if the employers do not stop imposing such extreme demands like the cutting of wages by up to 30-40 percent," said Proutzos Panagiotis, the president of the tourism union.
Hotel restaurant manager Koukos Panagiotis also warned that the cuts could spell a serious threat to the families of hotel workers, calling it a matter of survival.
“These cuts will completely destroy us. Remember that 70 percent of the workers in our field are working five months per year and have to support their families on that for the rest of the year," he said.
Tourism in Greece in the country’s main source of foreign currency, and any threat of strike action is likely to rattle through the industry.
Greece is caught in a fifth straight year of recession and is struggling to conduct a series of tough austerity measures in return for loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to cover its debts.