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Greece judges protest proposed pay cuts under austerity measures

Greek judges and court employees on Wednesday assembled in front of the country's Supreme Court in Athens to protest proposed pay cuts under the austerity measures for 2013-2014 which will eliminate public sector jobs and lower wages and pension plans. Around 200 judges, public prosecutors and court workers announced [AP report] that they will cut the operating hours of courts if the proposed new cuts are approved. Salaries of the group have been already cut by 38 percent, and the new proposal is expected to decrease salaries by additional 20 percent. They argue that additional pay cuts would deny them the ability to live a life in dignity. It was also reported that police, fire fighter and coast guard associations are planning to protest on Thursday. Greece proposed the new package in order to obtain the 31 billion euro rescue loan installment. If Greece is not able to receive the loan, its standing within the EU would be endangered.

The austerity measure that faces heavy criticism was approved [JURIST report] by the Greek Parliament [official website, in Greek] in February securing a second bailout for the country to avoid bankruptcy amidst rioting and violence in downtown Athens. Tension was sparked right after the 199-74 vote for the austerity measure when protesters and police officials clashed resulting in looting and burning of buildings. Prime Minister Lucas Papademos [official profile] warned that rejecting the measure would jeopardize Greece's standing in the European community. In July of last year, UN Office of the Commissioner on Human Rights [official website] Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Cephas Lumina, warned [JURIST report] Greece that implementation of previous austerity measures to solve its economic crisis [BBC backgrounder] could result in serious violations of basic human rights. The Greek Parliament passed previous austerity measures with $40 billion in budget cuts, in addition to selling $72 billion in state assets, under pressure from them International Monetary Fund (IMF), the EU and the European Central Bank [official websites], which want to stave off Europe's first sovereign default.

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