Unions and protesters shut down the Acropolis, halted public transport and occupied government buildings on Thursday, intensifying their confrontation with the Greek government as it scrambles to push more painful cuts through parliament.

Greece's largest labor union, the GSEE, sided with protesting public servants and announced plans to strike on Oct. 19 and 20, in opposition to the Socialist government's "ineffective and catastrophic policies," it said.

Stores and even farmers' markets in Athens are also due to close on the first day of the strike.

Public servants are the main targets of new austerity measures, slated for parliamentary approval Oct. 20, that include across-the-board salary cuts, and the suspension of 30,000 workers on the state payroll with reduced salaries.

Pensioners will also see more cuts, and salary earners will pay higher taxes, while parliament has already approved an emergency property tax due to be levies starting this month through electricity bills.

"The recession is deepening, unemployment has rocketed to appalling heights, the economy is collapsing, the living standards of our people has been pushed back decades back," the civil servants' union ADEDY said. "Employees and society are being driven to despair as the (government) pursues its policies that are creating the economic deadlock."

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