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Greeks to take to the streets again in jobless protest

Nefeli Agkyridou

At 25 years old, Dimitris Mpitinis has just finished a four-year undergraduate degree and a two-year master's, as well as his nine-month compulsory military service.

"I have done a few internships, but with no work experience, no one will hire me. I could go on a government-subsidized program. But this means I would be working full-time for 450 euros ($561) a month, most probably in a different city, which would leave me with no money to pay for rent and other expenses."

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Public sector employees shout slogans during a demonstration against layoffs in Athens

Dimitris is just one of the many unemployed young Greeks -- youth unemployment stands at 50 percent -- who are going to protest on Thursday for their right to work.

The Greek crisis that blew up four years ago and threatened to break up the euro zone has slashed the country's workforce by 20 percent and sent youth unemployment soaring. Greece received two rescue bailouts since from international lenders in return for strict austerity measures.

"Since the measures were imposed and in the name of competitiveness, hundreds of thousands of businesses shut down and no new jobs have been created.", Dimitris Karageorgopoulos, press secretary and board member of the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) told CNBC on the phone.

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Greek workers are set to take to the streets of Athens to voice their anger at the high levels of unemployment and any further austerity. The protest comes a few days after the government submitted its revised budget plan for 2015 to the Greek parliament for negotiation.

The budget, which included no new austerity measures, predicts full-year unemployment for 2014 at 24.8 percent, the lowest since 2012. But with around 1.3 million people out of work and without accounting for a further 3.3 million Greeks who are economically inactive or under flexible forms of work, it is no surprise that Greek workers cannot see an improvement.

Thodoris Kritikos, a 41 year-old journalist, is unemployed for the second time in four years. "In 2010 I was asked by my employer, a Greek newspaper, to sign for a thirty percent decrease in my salary. I refused and I lost my job. After two years of being unemployed, I found a similar job with more responsibility but even less money. Soon they stopped paying us, until business picked up again, they said. "

Having quit his job, Kritikos is not entitled to any unemployment benefits, as under Greek law employees are only eligible for state benefits if they were fired.

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Kritikos and his colleagues are demonstrating on Wednesday, as journalists take to the streets to ask for decent working conditions and the protection of their salaries; a day before a wider national strike. With protest fatigue sinking in after four years of austerity, this is the first nationwide 24-hour strike in almost six months.

"Since the crisis started, we are constantly being asked to pay for more taxes, while salaries are not protected anymore after the breach of collective employment contracts," Karageorgopoulos said.

Average real wages have dropped by 21 percent between 2010 and 2013 while the cost of labor per hour has fallen by 16 percent, according to the Institute of Employment, a research center attached to the confederation of workers, GSEE.

Employers agree that there can be no more reductions in salaries. "It is not considered economically necessary or efficient to further reduce the minimum basic salary. Instead, it is necessary to reduce non-wage costs by drastically curtailing tax evasion, but also reforming of the current pension system.", Dimitris Vergados, spokesperson at the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises that represents Greek businesses told CNBC.

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In this climate, the Greek coalition government is under mounting pressure, as it is trying to resist any further budget cuts requested by the Troika and gain some political leverage at home. Key members of the Greek cabinet, including the finance and labor ministers, will return from Paris on Wednesday after two-day talks with the so-called Troika. They hope to conclude a long overdue review of the bailout that would lead to the release of the last tranche of aid on December 8 during a meeting of euro zone finance ministers.

It would also pave the way for talks on a potential credit line after the European program expires at the end of this year. A possible inconclusive presidential election early next year is still the key risk for Greece. It could lead to a snap election that the opposition left-wing party SYRIZA would win, according to the latest polls.

By CNBC's Nefeli Agkyridou. Follow her on Twitter: @nefeliagk