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Thousands rally against pension reform in Athens July 6, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Human rights abuses.
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Two Greek labor unions representing more than 2.5 million workers staged a protest in central Athens Saturday against a planned pension system reform.

Soaked in heavy rain, about 2,000 demonstrators marched in front of the parliament building, holding banners and chanting slogans against the reform and other austerity measures the government has introduced to overcome the country’s debt crisis.

Representatives of ADEDY and GSEE, the unions of public and private sector employees that organized the rally, warned of more protests if the government insists on the reform.

The unions are planning another general strike, the fifth this year, on the day that the pension reform bill will be voted on in the parliament.

Protesters oppose raising the minimum age for retirement to 65 and other changes in the pension system. But the government said that there is no other way to avoid a collapse of the system due to huge debts.

Greece has plunged into a debt crisis for seven months, sparking fears of a larger crisis across the eurozone. Under the pressure from European partners, the government implemented a series of austerity measures and announced a package of structural reforms that were strongly rejected by unions and the general public.

Most Greeks, according to opinion polls, agree something has to be done so that Greece will not default, but demand that only those who caused the crisis should pay for it.

However, after an EU-IMF financial aid plan was activated in May, the Greek government has little room to maneuver.

Under the plan, Athens will receive 110 billion euros (131.6 billion U.S. dollars) over next three years, during which drastic reforms will be implemented to cut the deficit from the current level of 13.6 percent of the GDP to less than 3 percent of the GDP and put the Greek economy back on track.

But Stathis Anestis, undersecretary of the GSEE, said Greeks “will not succumb to the provocative and unfair demands of our lenders from the EU and the IMF.”

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