Greek workers have begun their first mass confrontation with Greece's three-month-old coalition government, grounding flights, disrupting local transport and shutting public service offices.
The general strike is being backed by the country's biggest private sector force, the General Confederation of Greek workers (GSEE), the union of civil servants (ADEDY), and militant unionists attached to the KKE communist party.
All three groups are holding hold mass demonstrations in Athens – and some 65 cities and major towns nationwide – before protesters march on the Greek parliament.
"We call on everyone to take part in the strike and resist the austerity measures that hurt Greek people and the economy," said unionist Despina Spanou of ADEDY. "This strike is only the beginning in our fight."
The traditional summer break has allowed the conservative-led government of prime minister Antonis Samaras to enjoy relative calm on the streets since taking power in June.
About 3,000 police officers – twice the number usually deployed – are standing guard in the centre of
Ships will stay docked, shops have pulled down shutters, and museums and monuments will be closed to visitors throughout the day. Air traffic controllers are to walk off the job for three hours and hospitals will operate on emergency staff.