(Greece) – On Tuesday, Greek Parliament voted in favor a fresh wave of austerity measures in a move that will secure the next tranche of bailout funds totaling 2.8 billion euros. Although Greece’s third bailout was approved in June, the funds were blocked so that Greek could prove they were willing to implement the austerity measures required by the international creditors. Shortly after the bailout itself was approved, Greece met a series of conditions, which unlocked the first wave of funds. That money was needed in order to pay loan balances that were due to the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
This latest wave of austerity measures were approved with 152 out of 293 votes. Earlier in the week, Greek labor unions announced they were organizing strikes and work stoppages in response to one of the requirements for the bailout – the country’s privatization fund. During the vote, around 500 people protested the “selling off” of the country’s utilities. However, parliament approved the transfer of the country’s utilities despite the opposition. George Sinioris, the head of the water company workers association, said that, “They are handing over the nation’s wealth and sovereignty. We think this is a crime because it involves basic public services.” In the past, Tsipras’ government has said that the utilities would remain under state control. However, all that changed on Tuesday night.
Greece has been in a recession since before the first bailout, which took place in 2010. As part of each of the bailouts, Greece has implemented a series of austerity measures, including tax increases, salary cuts, and pension cuts. Labor unions have been concerned that the privatization fund would leave more people in Greece out of work. The International Monetary Fund has yet to participate in this third bailout, saying that they don’t believe Greece’s can handle its massive debt burden.