A man walks past a placard by the Civil Servants Confederation (ADEDY) calling people to participate in a rally against austerity in downtown Athens in this file picture.

Athens - Greece's civil servants began a 24-hour nationwide walkout on Wednesday to protest against austerity measures that foresee thousands of layoffs.

Public sector union ADEDY called the strike to protest the government's plan to fire 25,000 public servants this year.

The walkout caused public services and schools to remain shut across the country.

Doctors at state hospitals in Athens and Pireaus also took part in the walkout.

The government's spending cuts have sent unemployment to record levels of 28 per cent and have pushed the economy deep into recession.

Workers were scheduled to hold a rally in central Athens at noon.

The austerity measures, which range from tax hikes to salary and pension cuts, have been demanded by the country's international creditors in exchange for bailout loans totaling 240 billion euros (332 billion dollars).

The civil servants union has called another, two-day, strike starting on March 19. - Sapa-dpa