Greeks Strike against Shocking Public Broadcaster Closure

World | June 13, 2013, Thursday // 11:27
Bulgaria: Greeks Strike against Shocking Public Broadcaster Closure Greek state television and radio station ERT employees and colleagues of other media work in the broadcasting station headquarters of ERT in Athens, Greece, early morning 13 June 2013. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Greek unions are staging a 24-hour protest strike against the government's surprise move to shut down state broadcaster ERT and lay off 2,700 people.

The 24-hour strike, which includes Greek media, began at midnight, leaving many of the public services in disarray.

Some of the ERT TV staff however continued to work on Thursday in defiance to the shutdown and despite the fact that they are now unemployed.

This is the third general strike and it is affecting tax offices, schools and hospitals.

It also means buses, trams, ferries and trains are not running, with no metro service to Athens' main airport.

ERT journalists are staging defiant sit-ins in the capital and in Greece's second city, Thessaloniki.

The Greek government surprisingly shut down the radio and TV services of the state broadcaster ERT on Tuesday evening and suspended all employees as part of its latest austerity measures.

"ERT is a case of an exceptional lack of transparency and incredible extravagance. This ends now," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said earlier.

In his words the public broadcaster ERT, was a real "haven of waste".

While all 2,500 employees would be sacked, he added they would be paid compensation and would be able to apply for work when the corporation relaunches as a smaller, independent public broadcaster.

The decision took viewers by surprise as they saw the screens go to black late on Tuesday evening.

The head of ERT's foreign desk, Odin Linardatou, said the announcement took journalists by surprise too.

"We are very shocked, we are angry," she told the BBC's Newshour program. "What I cannot accept in a democracy is that Greece will not have a public broadcaster."

Thousands of people held a protest against the decision outside ERT headquarters.

It is the latest move in rafts of spending cuts and tax rises aimed at leading the country out of recession.

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Tags: TV, radio, ERT, state broadcaster, austerity measures, greece, Greek, government
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