Greece approves austerity budget amid new strike

Greek PM: "Our consistency is being rewarded"

The Greek parliament has approved next year's budget, bringing in sweeping austerity measures.

The budget imposes more spending cuts and tax rises, as required by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a bailout to tackle the country's debts.

Ahead of the vote, public transport unions protesting over cuts to wages staged another 24-hour strike.

The governing Socialists won the vote by 156-142.

The budget aims to effect a deficit of 7.4% of GDP next year, down from about 9.4% this year.

Growth pledge

Greece needed to approve the budget to continue to receive a $144bn bailout fund created by European countries and the IMF.

Greek protester in Athens Protesters continued their opposition in Athens on Wednesday

Prime Minister George Papandreou insisted his austerity measures were working.

"We will not go bankrupt. In 2012 we will return to a path of growth. We will not give speculators or ratings agencies the pleasure.

"We will do whatever it takes to succeed. We will change this country."

The 24-hour strike caused traffic chaos in Athens as commuters struggled to get to work by car or taxi.

The strike included public transport such as buses and metro, although flights and ferries were not affected.

"The struggle by the workers, the pensioners and the unemployed against these anti-worker and anti-social measures continues," private sector union GSEE said in a statement.

"The workers and unions of the country will continue and intensify their action and struggles as long as these unjust and harsh neo-liberal policies continue," it added.

The BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Athens says the budget was expected to pass, but that dissent among MPs of the governing socialist party is growing.

The country has seen several general strikes this year.

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