Trains ground to a halt and hospitals worked with emergency staff as Greek workers went on strike today in protest at government plans to fire thousands of public sector employees.

Athens must reform and shrink its civil service to receive more bailout funds from foreign lenders.

The latest plan of job cuts has sparked uproar among Greeks struggling with an unemployment rate of nearly 27%.

Refuse collectors, bus drivers, bank employees and journalists were among the groups joining the walkout.

Flights to and from Athens were disrupted as civil aviation unions stage a four-hour work stoppage in solidarity.

City transport was also affected with bus and trolley bus drives holding work stoppages in the morning and in the evening.

Trains stopped running and tax offices and municipal services remain shut.

Representing about 2.5m workers, the two unions have brought workers to the streets repeatedly since Greece slid into a debt crisis in late 2009.

The latest strike came before a parliamentary vote tomorrow on reforms Athens agreed with its European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders as a condition for €6.8bn in aid.

Among the measures included in the bill are job cuts for teachers, municipal police and local government posts.