Cyprus Mail

Ferries stay docked, farmers empty milk churns in Greek pension protests

Passengers carry their baggage in heavy rain as passenger ships are moored during a 48-hour strike by Greek ship workers against planned pension reforms at the port of Piraeus

By Lefteris Papadimas

Ferries remained docked at Greek ports and farmers poured milk onto the streets on Wednesday in protest over plans to revamp Greece’s pensions system, a condition for the country’s multi-billion euro bailout.

Public anger is growing over the leftist-led government’s drive to cut its costly pension bill by some 1.8 billion euros this year, the equivalent of about 1 per cent of national output.

Public and private sector workers plan a national walkout on Feb. 4 but ship workers took early action on Wednesday by starting a 48-hour strike that brought passenger shipping activity in the seafaring nation to an effective standstill.

“This is a first response to the third (bailout) maelstrom,” the Panhellenic Seafarers’ Federation said in a statement. Under reform proposals, their own contributions fund will be merged with another, sparking concerns about lower pensions in future.

On the Aegean island of Naxos, where farming accounts for 50 per cent of the local economy, farmers gathered at its port to pour away milk. In the city of Thessaloniki in northern Greece, farmers gathered with their tractors to protest.

“The government is planning to double our taxation … and triple our pension contributions. This is unacceptable, they will exterminate us”, said Vagelis Boutas, president of a national committee coordinating the farmer protests.

“We will escalate our demonstrations from tomorrow,” he told Reuters.

Debt-ridden Greece has made many failed efforts in the past decades to revamp its ailing pension system, the most expensive in Europe as a per centage of economic output. Experts have in the past warned it will collapse if left unchanged.

Pension reform is a particularly sensitive issue for the Tsipras government, engaged in a delicate balancing act to push through controversial reforms in a fractious parliament where it has a slim majority of just three seats.

Athens signed up to a bailout deal with international lenders last year worth up to 86 billion euros, yanking the country from the brink of financial meltdown.

It has presented a plan which increases social security contributions and recalculates future pensions but has also promised to protect pensioners on whom entire households can sometimes depend.

After tough negotiations and months of resistance to calls by lenders, Tsipras agreed last year to implement a 2010 law that included discouraging early pensions and raising the retirement age.

Related Posts

Stampede, riot at Indonesia soccer match kill 129, league suspended

Reuters News Service

Iran protests: majority of people reject compulsory hijab and an Islamic regime, surveys find

The Conversation

Russia abandons Ukrainian bastion, Chechen chief suggests nuclear response

Reuters News Service

Nord Stream rupture may mark biggest single methane release ever recorded

Reuters News Service

Students rally as Iran protests enter third week

Reuters News Service

UK’s Truss: I recognise there has been market disruption

Reuters News Service


Comments are closed.