Greek Labor Unions on Strike Because of Proposed Cuts

Old Parliament House at night, Athens, Greece

(Athens, Greece) – Greek labor unions have gone on strike due to austerity measures that were taken recently. These austerity measures have come about due to the country’s new negotiations for its third bailout package in the past several years. Since the first bailout, referred to as the First Economic Adjustment Program for Greece, took place in May of 2010. The second bailout was approved in 2012. Greece is currently in the middle of talks and negotiations exploring the possibility for a third bailout. The labor unions hit the streets to protest the newest round of austerity measures that the international leaders are demanding. The labor union believes that the these measures aren’t in the workers’ best interests.

Parliament will vote on a round of tax and pension reforms, which the population generally opposes sometime over the next few days. The labor unions encouraged all work to stop early on Friday, May 6. The protestors will also march outside of the legislation building on the the day that the vote will take place. This particular strike will impact ferry services for around four days, as well as municipal services that are run by the state, such as garbage collection services. Parliament’s vote will take place on Sunday, May 8. This draft legislation proposes to raise taxes on corporate dividends to 15%, making that a 5% increase. They are also proposing to lower the tax free thresholds, as well as to raise the solidarity tax. The draft law will also cut pension spending, which is currently set at 17% of Greece’s gross domestic product annually.

Athens hopes that these new measures will help encourage the international creditors to release more bailout funds, which the country badly needs. In July of 2015, Greece signed a deal with its creditors to receive 86 Billion Euro in bailout funds as long as they agreed to new austerity measures. The creditors include the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. As a whole, the agreement wasn’t popular in Greece, particularly because the current Prime Minster, Alexis Tsipras, came into promising to end austerity. So far, Greece has received a total of 240 Billion Euros from its creditors from the 2010 and 2012 bailouts, which came about because of the economic crisis that took place in 2009.

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