* Thousands march in front of parliament
* Athens asks for extension to "mobility" deadline
* Strike to culminate in anti-fascism rally Wednesday
By Karolina Tagaris and Lefteris Papadimas
ATHENS, Sept 24 Greek public sector workers went
on strike for the second time in a week on Tuesday, shutting
schools and leaving hospitals with skeleton staff, as inspectors
from Greece's foreign lenders checked whether the country was
meeting its bailout targets.
Hiring in the civil service has long been considered driven
by political patronage and Greece's creditors have said they
will not dole out any more money unless Athens reforms a state
apparatus accused of being spendthrift and corrupt.
From municipal police to teachers, workers began a 48-hour
walkout against plans to cut thousands of public sector jobs,
and they were also protesting over the killing of an anti-racism
rapper by a supporter of the far-right Golden Dawn party.
ADEDY, the public sector umbrella union which organised the
walkout, said government efforts to reduce the 600,000-strong
civil service at the behest of the EU and IMF bailing out Greece
was "the most merciless plan" to eliminate worker rights.
The government has dubbed the plan a "mobility scheme",
meaning workers will have to find work in another department
within eight months on a reduced salary, or be laid off.
The workers say the government is firing them
indiscriminately at a time when Greece in enduring its worst
peacetime crisis and record unemployment.
Blowing whistles and carrying banners reading, "No to human
sacrifices", thousands of workers marched by the parliament.
"Out with the bailouts and the bosses!" they chanted.
"The government must realise they can't fire people just
like that," said 51-year-old Yiota Papadopoulou, a state high
school teacher who worries about losing her job. "We were hired
on merit, we have degrees, we weren't all hired on favours."
The administrative reform ministry must put a total of
25,000 workers in the mobility pool by the end of the year.
It has met an end-September target of 12,500 workers -
mostly teachers, school guards and municipal staff, officials at
the ministry told reporters.
The ministry has asked the trio of European Commission,
International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank lenders to
delay by two or three months an end-December deadline to do the
same with the remaining 12,500 employees, the officials said.
The latest review by the lenders, who have propped up Greece
with over 240 billion euros ($323.82 billion), will decide the
size of a third bailout to see it through the crisis and is
expected to last at least until the end of next month.
Backed by a vocal anti-bailout opposition which has openly
called on citizens to take to the streets to overthrow the
government, unions have stepped up protests in recent months.
Scores of municipal police dressed in black instead of their
traditional green uniforms staged a mock funeral in Athens on
Monday and somberly marched behind a hearse across the city
centre, carrying wreaths and singing psalms.
The latest labour action also turned into a protest to mark
the fatal stabbing of Pavlos Fissas by a self-proclaimed
supporter of the Golden Dawn party last week.
ADEDY and its private sector union GSEE, which represent
about 2.5 million workers, have brought people to the streets
repeatedly since the financial crisis erupted in 2009 and plan
to stage an anti-fascism rally in Syntagma Square on Wednesday.
The main leftist opposition Syriza party urged Greeks to
join the rally "to defend democracy, dignity and civilisation".
"A massive presence will be the most resounding condemnation
of the Golden Dawn murderers of Pavlos Fissas," Syriza said in a
Golden Dawn denies involvement in the killing and says the
45-year-old attacker, who has been charged with murder, was not
Golden Dawn is Greece's third most popular party and, in
part, an outgrowth of discontent over state corruption and an
economic crisis that has fuelled hostility towards immigrants.