Greece approves pension reforms

Parliament passes measures aimed at curbing debt as workers take to the streets.

    Around 12,000 people took to the streets in Athens to protest against the government's reforms [Reuters]

    Analysts had viewed Thursday's vote as a major test of the government's ability to push through structural reforms.

    Reduced numbers

    Barnaby Phillips, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Athens, said crowds gathered in the capital appeared to be smaller than in other general strikes.

    "Whether that's because people are simply exhausted by these endless protests, whether that's because there's been no public transport at all today ... or whether more people are coming around to the government's point of view, is all conjecture at the moment."

    But he said despite the reduced numbers, the atmosphere was still tense.

    Politicians had agreed in principle on the reform in a preliminary vote late on Wednesday.

    Many Greeks are angry with the prospect of having to work longer for a smaller pension, particularly women who can now retire as early as 55.

    "It's horrible, we paid all our contributions, we paid our taxes, and we are not going to get anything," Vaso Spoulou, a 54-year-old protester, told the Reuters news agency.

    "They are destroying everything."

    Previous demonstrations this year have turned violent, and on May 5 three employees died after being trapped in a bank set on fire by suspected anarchist rioters.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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