Unions have called a strike December 1, against an austerity budget
Opposition to an unpopular property tax imposed to help secure bankruptcy-saving EU loans gathered pace in Greece on Wednesday ahead of a new general strike called by
unions against austerity cuts.
The powerful syndicate of Greece\'s main power provider PPC, Genop-Dei, was blocking the company\'s data processing centre for a fourth day to prevent the collection of the tax, which is drawn through electricity bills.
They ignored a prosecutor\'s order to evacuate the building after receiving support from Greece\'s main left-wing parties, KKE and Syriza, who are also fighting against a new wave of spending cuts.
\"We\'re not cutting power to the poor even if they throw us in prison,\" reads a Genop-Dei banner hanging from the building.
Several mayors in working-class Athens districts are also encouraging their residents to contest the tax, which is among measures taken to plug budget shortfalls persisting after two years of tough belt-tightening.
The main unions have called a general strike on December 1, the sixth this year, against an austerity budget that will be pushed through parliament by a new unity government under ex-European Central Bank deputy chief Lucas Papademos, which was installed a fortnight ago.
The property tax was introduced by the previous government in September and would charge residents between 0.5 and 16 euros ($21.6) per square metre, depending on their circumstances.
People living on less than 3,000 euros a year would pay the lowest amount, while the long-term unemployed are already exempt.
The tax is administered through electricity bills to make it difficult to evade and this also provides the government with an automatic sanction -- if no payment has been received 40 days after the bill is sent, the power is cut off.
Greece is under pressure from its international creditors, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, to balance its budget and introduce structural reforms to continue receiving funds from a loan package agreed in 2010.
Athens needs an eight-billion-euro loan slice by December 15 or it will be unable to pay wages and pensions.