Clashes in Greece over budget cuts

Riot police have clashed with Greek demonstrators angry about planned wage cuts, tax rises and pension reductions to be implemented to tackle the country’s debt crisis.

Thousands of left-wing demonstrators and labour union members descended on Athens, the capital, on Saturday for a May Day march against the so-called austerity measures.

Police fired tear gas into the crowds after protesters hurled rocks at the finance minister, where European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials have been meeting to discuss a bailout for the beleaguered euro zone nation.

“Hands off our rights! IMF and EU Commission out!,” the protesters shouted as they marched to parliament.

Angry protesters set fire to garbage cans and a van belonging to state broadcaster ERT and at least 19 people were reportedly arrested by the police.

There were similar scenes in the northern city of Thessaloniki as protesters attacked business premises, smashing store fronts and cash machines.

“No to the IMF’s junta!” protesters chanted, referring to the military government which ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974.

Waving red flags, the crowd at times surged toward the line of police, who wore helmets and carried riot shields. The police pushed them back each time.