Nearly 2000 retired workers and Social Security department workers gathered in Athens on October 3 to protest “inhumane” cuts to pensions.
An army of 1500 senior citizens marched behind banners, chanting “shame on you” and calling for the government to cancel the memorandum that has led to ongoing cuts since 2010, with further cuts set for 2019.
“I’m supporting two families on my pension,” said octogenarian protester Athanasios Christou, leaning on a walking stick.
This is a common scenario for Greek families following the crash of the economy in 2010, which caused the unemployment rate to rise to more than 21%.
“I don’t know what I will do if it’s reduced further,” the 87-year-old said. “I have cut back on everything, coffee at my local store, newspapers. I go to the doctor only for something serious and even then it’s on borrowed money.”
The protests were aimed at the Syriza party, which swept to power in 2015 promising to do away with austerity, but later accepted further cuts in return for a multi-billion euro financial bailout.
“I have had enough of their lies,” said Thanassis Lechos, a 69-year-old who worked for 47 years in construction and mines. He said his pension has fallen 30% in recent years.
“I have children and grandchildren, who are waiting for their granddad to support them.”
The third bailout adjustment program is expected next August, as creditors defend “austerity” cuts while families suffer. European Union statistics agency Eurostat said 22.2% of Greece’s population is “severely materially deprived”.
That is defined as an inability to pay for a mortgage or rent, utility bills, heating, pay unexpected expenses and a washing machine.
Meanwhile, journalists launched a 24-hour strike the same day against the underfunding of their social security funds.
Newspapers stopped the presses and reporters from radio and television news stations joined the strike. News websites also announced they would not update content during the strike.
The country’s main journalist union, ESIEA, launched the strike to demand that the government honour social security requirements by meeting health care needs.
[Reprinted from TeleSUR English.]