General Strike Paralyzes GreeceSoutheast Europe | February 4, 2016, Thursday // 20:37| views
Protestors hold banners and shout slogans during a demonstration in central Athens. Greece’s largest private and public sector unions organised a general strike on 4 February 2016 to protest against the planned pension reforms. Photo EPA/BGNES
A massive general strike against unpopular pension reforms hit Greece on Thursday.
The nationwide stoppage - the third in as many months - shut down schools, courts and pharmacies, halted public transport, flights, trains and ferries. Hospitals operated only with emergency staff and petrol stations remained closed.
Farmers and pensioners, workers and lawyers took to the streets in Athens to demand an end to austerity measures introduced by the leftist-led government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as part of Greece’s third international bailout arrangement with international creditors.
The 24-hour labour action, organized by Greece’s main labour unions, is directed particularly against government plans to slash the maximum monthly pension by EUR 400 to EUR 2,300 and introduce a new minimum guaranteed basic pension of EUR 384.
Greece needs to save EUR 1.8 B equivalent of 1% its GDP through pension reforms. It also needs to raise about EUR 350 M from tax hikes to achieve a primary surplus of 0.5% of GDP.
Heavily-indebted Greece signed a EUR 86 B bailout deal with international lenders last year.