The Greek Seamen’s Union has launched a two-day strike to protest against the austerity measures introduced by the government to combat the debt crisis.

The strike, which will continue until 6am on 2 February 2013, has affected key ports in the country, forcing many ships and ferries to stay docked at ports.

According to Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS), there will be no assistance with berthing and sailing movements by tug boat crews for vessels calling at the ports of Piraeus, Aspropyrgos, Eleusis and Lavrion.

ISS Greece managing director Christos Makrialeas said: "This 48-hour strike by the Seamen’s Union in Greece will affect all ports and islands as local ferries will not be operating, and at the same time all vessel movements at the ports of Piraeus, Aspropyrgos, Eleusis and Lavrion."

ISS said vessel movements at Thessaloniki will not be affected as the local towage company has not joined the strike.

Greek workers have been protesting against the wage cuts and tax increases imposed to meet the country’s bailout terms.

Workers from Elefsina Shipyard did not work on Tuesday, demanding full payment of their salary and claiming they have only been paid part of their wages since 2010.

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Greece has been facing severe financial crisis since late 2009 and is being kept afloat by rescue loans from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Greek Finance Alternate Minister Christos Staikouras said the government has paid off €1bn of its €9bn debt to the private sector and plans to pay another tranche of €3bn in February.

The Greek government plans to pay €3.5bn by the end of March, €5bn by the first half of 2013, €6.5bn by the third quarter and €8bn by the end of 2013.

As part of the austerity measures, the government has announced several cuts on spending and enforced tax hikes resulting in severe salary and pension cuts.

Since 2010, the EU and IMF have provided about €240bn in rescue loans to Greece.