Greek drivers lined up for gas at the few stations still open Friday as a customs strike against government austerity measures left many pumps running dry.
The fuel shortage was the first serious consequence of growing labor protests against the Socialist government's emergency spending cuts program, aimed at easing the debt crisis in Greece and shoring up market confidence.
Customs workers have extended their strike against salary freezes and bonus cuts through next Wednesday, when unions across Greece will hold a general strike that is set to bring the country to a standstill.
European finance ministers have told Athens it must demonstrate signs of fiscal improvement by March 16 or it will be ordered to impose even tougher budget cuts. Greece has promised to slash its deficit from an estimated 12.7 percent of gross domestic product to 8.7 percent this year.
Finance Ministry officials say they are under EU pressure to ax the public servants' so-called "14th salary." Greek workers get their annual salary divided into 14 payments, with two of them given as holiday bonuses, in a measure originally designed to alleviate those with low incomes.
"We would consider cutting the 14th (salary) to be an act of war," said Yiannis Papagopoulos, leader of Greece's trade union umbrella group, the GSEE.
VH: Aren't unions great? They would rather destroy their own country than to agree to austerity programs. This isn't the first time (or the last) that unions have held the public hostage and I'm not just talking about Greece either. The recent $60 billion giveaway to Big Labor for ObamaCare is still a fresh wound. In California, Big Labor rules. And they will crush anyone that gets in their way. Heck, they made mince meat and a lame duck of Arnold Schwchenneger when he tried to curb their power back in 2005. With a $20 billion fiscal hole that California needs to deal with, just wait until there has to be some real cutting of public services and jobs around here. All hell is going to break loose with public unions being at the head of the screaming mob.