Greek workers protest soaring energy costs during May Day rallies

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Gas and electricity bills rose, with price hikes exacerbated by sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, pushing inflation in Greece to multi-year highs.

Police estimate around 10,000 people marched through central Athens and gathered outside the Greek parliament due to the cost of living which they say is becoming unaffordable.

“It is very hard, and every day it is getting harder for the workers. We will fight it, because the working class can no longer survive,” said Katerina Dekaristou, a teacher, standing in front of parliament.

Greece emerged from a decade of financial crisis in 2018, only for the pandemic to halt global travel two years later, hurting the tourism industry on which its economy relies.

The Conservative government has subsidized electricity and gas bills to help protect households and businesses at a total cost of 4 billion euros ($4.22 billion) since last September.

It also increased the minimum wage to 713 euros per month from May 1, the second increase this year. But pay levels are still low, especially in the context of higher electricity bills.

“Everything has gone up. Electricity has gone up, gas has gone up, necessities have gone up. It’s chaotic. We can’t get paid fast enough to pay for anything else. is (not) necessary to pay for these things,” said Pantelis Iordanou, a car bodybuilder.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on the European Union for joint action to deal with the situation, including a cap on gas prices.

Whatever Europe decides, the Greek government will announce further general measures this month to mitigate the impact on consumers, government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou told Greek television on Sunday.

($1 = 0.9488 euros)

(Reporting by Vassilis Triandafyllou; Writing by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Barbara Lewis)

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