Greek unemployment surges to 24.4 per cent

Greek unemployment

GREECE’S unemployment rate surged to 24.4 per cent in June, according to official figures, as protests continued against a massive new austerity package, with police blocking their colleagues from starting work.

The Greek Statistical Authority said on Thursday the number of people out of work in June rose by 34,000 to more than 1.2 million. The jobless rate was up from 23.5 per cent in May and 17.2 per cent the previous year.

Greece’s coalition government is hammering out a new 11.5 billion-euro ($A14.30 billion) austerity package for 2013-14, demanded by rescue creditors from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund.

The new cuts, though not yet finalised, are likely to see further cuts to benefits as well as pensions and several groups of employees on the state payroll, including the police.

Earlier on Thursday, protesting police officers in Greece have defied their own colleagues in the riot police and blocked the entrance of one of their own facilities for about four hours.

About 50 members of the Greek Police Officers’ Association picketed police facilities at Zografou, northeast of central Athens, preventing buses used for transporting riot police from leaving the site. The buses are scheduled to go to the northern city of Thessaloniki, where weekend anti-austerity demonstrations are planned.

The protesters are planning a protest rally in central Athens later on Thursday with officers in uniform joined by colleagues from the Coast Guard and Fire Service.