Greeks protest attacks on pensions, tax rises

January 30, 2016

Greek pensioners rally in Athens on January 21.

Thousands of Greek white-collar professionals, including doctors, lawyers and engineers, took to the streets on January 21, protesting against major tax and pension reforms required by the country's creditors.

About 6000 pensioners gathered outside the Ministry of Labor to protest against a government proposal to cut pension benefits, as well as a measure that would raise social security contributions by both employers and staff.

“The bill proposal should be submitted to official bodies, after it had been discussed with social forces and Greek people,” said Kostas Lourantos, president of the Panhellenic Pharmaceutical Association, to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency. “We will fight until the end of this unjust, undemocratic and anti-development blueprint.”

Meanwhile, Greek farmers built road blockades across the country on the same day, with 6000 tractors lined up in various areas.

The draft pension reform would mean the vast majority of insured farmers will have their annual social security taxes gradually increase from €946 to €1544 in 2019.

“We are going for all out confrontation,” said union leader Yannis Vangos. “It seems we can't see eye to eye at all. Things are out of control. It's not just one thing we have to negotiate.”

The austerity policies promoted by the leftist government of Syriza over the past six months are largely due to the fiscal policy conditions contained in the three-year bailout agreement signed with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in July.

Several of the debt cancellation measures demanded by Greece's international creditors — including pension cuts and new laws that make it easier to lay off workers — clash with the platform Syriza was elected on in January last year.

[Reprinted from TeleSUR English.]

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