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Strike over pension reforms brings Greece to standstill

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A man rides his bicycle crossing rail tracks during a 24-hour public transport general strike, in Thessaloniki, Greece, on February 18, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Greece was hit with a 24-hour strike Tuesday over a pension reform encouraging people to stay longer in the workforce.

The labor action paralyzed public transport in Athens, intercity trains, and ferry ship services.

Civil servants are also walking off the job and journalists will stage a three-hour work stoppage against the pension reform.

"This bill is practically the continuation of (austerity) laws introduced in 2010-2019," civil servants' union ADEDY said.

Unions will hold street protests in Athens, Thessaloniki, and other major cities later in the day.

The new conservative government says the reform, to be voted by Friday, will make the troubled Greek pension system viable to 2070.

The labor ministry says the overhaul — the third major revamp in a decade — will contain pension increases and reduce penalties for pensioners still working.

Successive governments have attempted to reform the pension system, whose previously generous handouts are seen as one of the causes of the decade-long Greek debt crisis.

Chronic overspending and the inaccurate reporting of the budget deficit spooked creditors in 2010, and required three successive bailouts by the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to avert a Greek bankruptcy.

In return for billions of euros in rescue funds, Greece had to adopt unpopular austerity reforms and pension cuts.

(Source: AFP)

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