Greeks launch 48-hour strike over proposed tax, pension reforms
People in Greece have launched a 48-hour general strike to protest against government-proposed legislation to introduce tax and pension reforms.
The Greeks swarmed the streets on Friday after two major workers’ unions in the country declared a 48-hour nationwide walkout for May 6 and 7.
The strike called by the General Confederation of Workers (GSEE) and the state Executive Civil Servant’s Associations (ADEDY) would affect the shipping, public transport, and media sections. Government offices, too, will stay closed.
The Greeks are protesting the proposed new set of laws aimed at raising social security contributions, increasing income taxes for high earners, and introducing a new national pension.
The laws are being introduced under terms of an international multi-billion-euro bailout the government signed up to last year.
Greek lawmakers are now debating the new measures and are expected to put them to a vote on May 8. The indebted government in Athens hopes the legislation would help persuade creditors to approve the release of bailout cash.
“They are trying to prove to the Eurogroup that they are good students but they are destroying Greece’s social security system,” a GSEE official said, referring to the group of eurozone finance ministers who have been involved in extending the bailout to Greece.
A tranche of about 5 billion euros in bailout money is now pending following the failure of talks over the pace of reforms Greece has to undertake.
The economic bailout was offered by the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the troika of international lenders.
Athens is now reportedly at loggerheads with the IMF over extra state savings to be made if Greece fails to meet economic targets.
The creditors have already granted Greece two bailout loans: one in 2010 and the other in 2012, worth a total of 240 billion euros (USD 272 billion).
An economic crisis hit the country back in 2009. Since then, Greece has witnessed a high unemployment rate and numerous labor protests.