Europe

Police, coast guard, fire service unions protest in Greece

  • Greek coastguard officers hold flares as they gather with firefighters and police officers many in uniform, during an anti-austerity protest in Athens, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. Unionists are protesting funding, pay and hiring cuts implemented over the past seven years of Greece's bailout-linked austerity program, as well as what they describe as severe shortages in service equipment, including police patrol cars. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

    Greek coastguard officers hold flares as they gather with firefighters and police officers many in uniform, during an anti-austerity protest in Athens, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. Unionists are protesting funding, pay and hiring cuts implemented over the past seven years of Greece's bailout-linked austerity program, as well as what they describe as severe shortages in service equipment, including police patrol cars. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)  (The Associated Press)

  • A Greek coastguard officer holds a banner in front of a flare as he gathers with firefighters and police officers, during an anti-austerity protest in Athens, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. Unionists are protesting funding, pay and hiring cuts implemented over the past seven years of Greece's bailout-linked austerity program, as well as what they describe as severe shortages in service equipment, including police patrol cars. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

    A Greek coastguard officer holds a banner in front of a flare as he gathers with firefighters and police officers, during an anti-austerity protest in Athens, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. Unionists are protesting funding, pay and hiring cuts implemented over the past seven years of Greece's bailout-linked austerity program, as well as what they describe as severe shortages in service equipment, including police patrol cars. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)  (The Associated Press)

About 1,200 uniformed Greek police, coast guards and firefighters are staging a protest in central Athens against funding, pay and hiring cuts linked with the country's bailout program.

Protesters gathered outside parliament holding banners reading "Stop cuts, we can take no more," and waving lit flares.

A police union said spending cuts over the past seven years have left service members with barely functioning patrol cars and outdated communications systems vulnerable to eavesdropping by criminals.

Unions participating in Wednesday's peaceful protest are also calling for more jobs, pay increases and better pension benefits.

Greece has severely reduced government spending, frozen hiring and slashed incomes to keep receiving the rescue loans that have kept it afloat since 2010.