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Greek lawmakers pass austerity measure; protests leave 1 dead

ATHENS, Greece — Greek lawmakers passed a controversial austerity bill on Thursday that drove tens of thousands to the streets in demonstrations over the past two days, leaving one person dead and dozens injured.

The new austerity bill was passed by a majority vote of 154 in the 300-member parliament. It consists of new tax hikes, further pension and salary cuts, the dismissal of 30,000 public servants and the suspension of collective labor contracts.

The vote came after violent protests that left one person dead and more than 40 people injured. Reports said a 53-year-old construction worker was hospitalized after suffering head injuries, and later died from heart failure.

Groups of youths wearing black masks and motorcycle helmets attacked peaceful demonstrators from the Communist Party with firebombs and stones, while riot police fired tear gas to try separate the two sides. Battles between protesters continued well into the evening, with groups of rioting youths setting mountains of trash on fire.

Earlier, more than 50,000 demonstrators descended onto the central Syntagma Square as the second day of a nationwide strike once again shut down much of the country with workers of all professions — from dentists, doctors and lawyers to tax office workers, taxi drivers, prison guards, teachers, bank workers, ferry and dock workers — staying out of work.

Greece's international creditors, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have been pressuring the government to move quickly with the reforms as a condition to secure a new tranche of bailout aid worth $11 billion.

Greek lawmakers pass austerity measure; protests leave 1 dead 10/20/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 20, 2011 11:44pm]
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