Sep.18 - Thousands of state workers in Greece strike over government plans to axe jobs. With troika inspectors due in Athens next week, David Pollard asks if Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is right to say the Greek economy will be back to pre-crisis levels within six years?
Signs of the times .... A placard announcing a two-day strike. This hospital running on emergency, skeleton staff. A school closed to its pupils. As the rest of the country tries to go about its everyday business, public sector workers are protesting against government austerity cuts. 15,000 jobs are to go. Another 25,000 workers are to be either redeployed - or also face dismissal. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) EMPLOYEE DIMITRA MANOLI SAYING: "We will stay stay here and fight until the end. They will not win, it will be us who will be victorious." The protests come just days before the government of prime minister, Antonis Samaras, meets European Commission, IMF and ECB officials - the so-called troika. They'll be asking: is Greece being tough enough on public spending to qualify for the next slice of its 240 billion euro bailout plan? Samaras says there is progress - and that another six years should be enough to restore it to where it was before the crisis. Those comments follow a promise to rid the need for help. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) GREEK PRIME MINISTER, ANTONIS SAMARAS, SAYING "Soon, we will be able to say good-bye to bailouts, when others were deciding our policies, because we could not go a month without borrowing from them. From now on, Greece will stand on its own feet." Investors like CMC's Michael Hewson aren't convinced. (SOUNDBITE) (English)CMC Markets Analysts, Michael Hewson, saying (English): "Their privatisation plan still remains off track, their structural reforms still remain off track and, you know, most of the country's on strike this week. So I think to be talking of about returning to pre-crisis growth levels at this point in time, given the fact that pretty much every single economic estimate over the past three years has missed, is optimistic in the extreme." Latest figures show nearly 28 per cent of Greek workers have no job - a record. But - one ray of hope - the month on month numbers actually show the biggest fall in unemployment since 2008. Meaning more people could be back at work in the months to come.