Greece caves in on civil service firings

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s coalition government on Monday caved in to demands to cut civil service jobs, announcing 15,000 positions would go this year, amid mounting international pressure to agree on austerity measures needed to secure major new debt agreements.

The announcement signals a shift in Greece’s policy, as state jobs have so far been protected during the country’s acute financial crisis, which started about two years ago. Public Sector Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas said the job cuts would be carried out under a new law that allows such firings.

Unions have called a 24-hour general strike for Tuesday, in response to the new austerity measures, while about 4,000 protesters braved torrential rain late Monday to join protest rallies organized in central Athens by left-wing opposition parties.