- Middle East/North Africa
Greece braced for a 24-hour general strike called by the two main unions in protest against austerity measures, ahead of a scheduled audit by the country's international creditors.
Doctors, lawyers and teachers are among several professions expected to abstain from their duties on Wednesday in the strike organized by private sector union GSEE and public sector union ADEDY.
"We are fighting for collective bargaining agreements, for measures to be finally taken against unemployment and to ensure our democratic and working rights," GSEE said in a statement released on Monday.
Communist-affiliated union Pame was the first to call the strike.
Although most public transport will be operating, buses and train services will suffer problems because of planned work stoppages during the day.
Air traffic will also be disrupted with cancellations and alterations in flight schedules.
Ships will remain docked throughout the day, disrupting ferry services to the islands, as the Panhellenic Seamen's Union is participating in the strike.
Greece's conservative-led, three-party coalition government insists there is no alternative to the harsh austerity program demanded by the country's creditors in return for vital loans.
But successive cuts to salaries and pensions over the past three years have angered Greeks who have frequently taken to the streets to demonstrate their frustration.
Facing a sixth year of continuous recession, the heavily indebted country has been relying on international rescue packages to avoid bankruptcy and get its economy back on track.
Since 2010, the EU and IMF have committed 240 billion euros (US$320 billion) overall in rescue loans to Greece.
Auditors representing Greece's EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund creditors are expected in Athens next week to assess the progress of its program.
Their report will determine whether Athens will receive a scheduled slice of 2.8 billion euros from its international creditors due in February.