Greeks challenged the government’s bailout for austerity deal with the European Union and IMF on Wednesday as tens of thousands of public and private sector workers walked off the job.

Ministries, tax offices, schools, public services and hospitals remained shut after public workers launched a 48—hour national strike on Tuesday.

Private sector workers joined in on Wednesday, shutting down transport in major cities and grounding flights at airports in the third joint walkout since the start of the year.

Greece’s bustling port of Pireaus remained eerily empty of ships and passengers as port officials walked off the job and a 24—hour news blackout was in effect after journalists refused to show up for work.

The latest in a series of protests in Greece came just days after the cash—strapped government unveiled a series of budget cuts in exchange for a 110—billion—euro (145—billion—dollar) rescue by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

EU leaders agreed on Sunday to activate the three—year rescue programme.

The new cuts worth 30 billion euros through 2012 include deeper cuts in pensions and public servants’ pay as well as a hike in consumer taxes.

Public anger is expected to grow with more than one in two Greeks saying they are prepared to take to the streets to fight the austerity plans.

Running a debt of more than 300 billion euros and a budget deficit of 13.6 of gross domestic product, Greece is in urgent need of funds before May 19 in order to refinance a 9—billion—euro, 10—year bond.

Keywords: Debt crisis

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