Greece: Strike Against Pension Cuts Ends with Molotov’s and Teargas


General Strike in Greece, 02/15

Today’s general strike, in response to proposed pension reforms and other measures such as the privatization of the commercial port in #Piraeus, is the the third since the leftist #Syriza-led government came into power under a popular anti-austerity mandate. Numerous professionals, as well as public and private sector employees protested this latest round of harsh #austerity measures enforced by creditors after the €86 billion bailout agreement last August. Of particular concern are cutbacks targeting pensions for the twelth time since 2010. Many fear that these reforms are simply untenable.Our reporter Nick Barnets has the story.#AthensLive #Greece #apergia #generalstrike #4fgr #4febgrVideo: Yannis Drakoulidis, Gerasimos Domenikos / FOS PHOTOS

Posted by AthensLive on Thursday, February 4, 2016

Greece – About 50,000 workers, farmers, self-employed professionals, and pensioners met in central Athens on Thursday, amid the third nation-wide general strike since December.

For the third time in just over a month, a 24-hour general strike closed schools, ferry service between the Greek islands and mainland was suspended as boats were kept moored in ports, public transportation was brought to a halt and even hospitals were left manned only by emergency staff. Farmers used thousands of tractors to block roads and intersections, as well as border crossings with Bulgaria and Turkey as they did in the end of January.

Greece’s two largest unions, the GSEE and ADEDY, called for the strike in protest against the new pension overhaul. The changes would increase social security contributions almost threefold and reduce pension payments.

“We cannot live, we cannot survive with what the government is asking from us,” said one of the protesting farmers Socratis Aleiftiras.

To cover a projected €600m deficit in this year’s pension budget, the government is proposing cuts to benefits and increasing employers’ contributions. Greek farmers also face an additional government measure that will double the income tax they pay.

The overhaul would also lower the maximum pension to 2,300 euros ($2,500) a month from 2,700 euros currently, and introduce a new minimum of 384 euros.

The left-wing government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras needs to save 1.8 billion euros on pension spending under the terms of an international bailout. The pensions, however, have already been slashed 11 times since 2010.

Earlier this week, representatives of the EU and International Monetary Fund arrived in Athens to discuss the government progress. The police deployed heavy security to the hotel hosting the debt inspectors, ahead of the Thursday rally.

The demonstration in Athens ended in a confrontation between riot police launching tear-gas and sound grenades to clear the protests as anarchists battled back with stones and Molotov’s.

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