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Strikes ahead of Greek Pension Reform Vote


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Massive Strikes ahead of Greek Pension Reform Vote

With a critical pension reform vote set for Thursday, millions of workers walked off the job in Greece to protest the plan. Thousands rallied in both Athens and Thessaloniki.

Greece was hamstrung Wednesday as millions of workers walked off the job to protest pension reforms being considered by the country's conservative government.

Around 10,000 people gathered in central Athens at a rally to protest a bill that would re-structure Greece's debt-ridden pension scheme. A further 8,000 attended a march in Thessaloniki. Parliament is scheduled to take a final vote on the bill on Thursday. The nationwide strike is the third since December orchestrated by the country's largest labor unions, GSEE and ADEDY.

"Millions of people will descend on the streets of Greece to protest against this legislation," Yiannis Panagopoulos, chairman of the GSEE, told the Associated Press before the walkout. Union leaders boasted that the strike would be the largest since the restitution of Greek democracy in 1974.

Public and private sector workers from a broad spectrum of trades and services joined many others already striking (more...) over the fiercely contested reforms. Many flights were cancelled Wednesday and many more delayed because air traffic controllers were participating. Banks shut down and most courts were empty due to a weeklong lawyers' strike. On Tuesday, a 24-hour work stoppage by rail workers brought subway and train transport in Athens to a standstill.

Also this week, garbage piled up on city streets and rolling blackouts continued across the country, the result of separate strikes among power workers and garbage collectors that have been going on for two weeks.

The fiercely disputed bill aims to overhaul a social security system that experts say would collapse in 15 years if left unchanged. Thursday's vote will be a major test for the conservative government that won re-election last September. Although some lawmakers have raised questions about the bill, there has been no real dissent in the ruling party.

Full story, source: Der Spiegel

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