Public sector workers strike against pension reforms in Greece

Public sector union ADEDY calls for 24-hour walkout to protest against pension reforms in Greece

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Protesters take part in a demonstration against planned pension reforms in central Athens, Greece, on March 9, 2016.

Flights were disrupted and hospitals ran on skeleton staff in Greece on Thursday during a strike called by public-sector workers against pension and tax reforms sought by Greece's foreign lenders.

Thursday's 24-hour walkout called by public sector union ADEDY coincides with a review by lenders of Athens's compliance with terms of an international bailout agreed last year.

Greeks have seen their incomes and services slashed under austerity measures agreed under the country's international bailouts.

European Union institutions and the International Monetary Fund are holding out for a conclusion of additional reforms by Athens before signing off on the review, which could potentially unlock further financial aid to the indebted country.

Greek pensioners shout slogans during a demonstration against planned pension reforms in Athens, Greece on March 10, 2016. (Reuters)

"Our strike is just a warm-up, we will stage a 48-hour strike when the government submits the bill (to parliament) with the measures," said Odysseas Drivalas, member of ADEDY's executive board.

"Workers have lost almost half of their income since the crisis started, they cannot bear any more of this burden. With labour action, we can at least put pressure on them [the government]."

ADEDY represents about 500,000 public sector workers and pensioners.

The review of Greek fiscal reforms has stalled for weeks because of disagreements between European Union institutions and the IMF on the level of fiscal adjustment Athens must pursue to cover any shortfalls, the form future debt relief should take, and Athens's recalcitrance in targeting pensions to trim spending.

Government officials say they hope for a draft agreement in place by this coming Sunday.

A protester shouts slogans through a loudspeaker during a demonstration against planned pension reforms in central Athens, Greece on March 9, 2016. (Reuters)

Debt relief is an integral part of the strategy of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to convince Greeks their sacrifices over six years of recession are finally paying off.

Port workers were expected to walk off the job on Friday, to protest the sale of the country's largest port of Piraeus to a Chinese shipping giant. Privatisations are also part of the bailout deal.

TRTWorld, Reuters