'Nothing left to hope for': Greek seamen, farmers protest planned pension reforms

TEMPE, Greece -- Greek ferry crews launched a two-day strike Wednesday while hundreds of farmers prepared to block highways to protest unpopular draft pension reforms that will further cut incomes in the austerity-weary country.

See Full Article

Unions representing practically all sectors of economic activity -- including private and public sector workers, lawyers, doctors, farmers and seamen -- fiercely oppose the reforms proposed by the radical left-led government.

They say the cutbacks demanded by the country's bailout creditors, combined with further tax hikes, will eradicate more than three quarters of annual income for some professional groups, particularly farmers.

Hundreds of farmers drove their tractors towards key road junctions, which they plan to block in coming days.

Convoys of about 800 tractors were heading through snow-covered countryside from the agricultural region of Thessaly in central Greece to Tempe Vale, a vital point on the main highway traversing Greece from north to south.

"The (new) pension system will triple our contributions, and, with the taxes, the state will end up keeping 85 per cent of our income," said farmer Antonis Fasfalis, 45, from the village of Platykambos.

Farmers say the reforms will increase their social security contributions from 6.5 to 27 per cent, while income tax will double -- going from 13 to 26 per cent.

"This year I will pay 4,000 euros ($4,350) in taxes, and next year it will be 10,000 ($10,870) with the new measures," said 60-year-old Constantinos Ougiaros, also from Platykambos.

"There's nothing left to hope for, not even the roadblock protest I'm heading to," he said. "(Authorities) will leave us to tire ourselves out, and then we will leave without having achieved anything."

In the northern town of Komotini, police fired tear gas at farmers who tried to break a cordon and meet the country's agriculture minister.

In the nearby Kilkis region, farmers briefly blocked a highway while hundreds of tractors were parked at the Promahonas border crossing to Bulgaria, which farmers have threatened to close.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Trump praises CIA, rips media coverage of inauguration

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump opened his first full day as president Saturday at a national prayer service, the final piece of transition business for the nation’s new chief executive before a promised full-on shift into governing. Source
  • Trump's inaugural cake a knock-off of Obama's, celebrity baker says

    World News CTV News
    U.S. President Donald Trump’s inaugural cake appears to have taken more than a slice of inspiration from the cake former President Barack Obama cut into after his re-election four years ago. Celebrity baker Duff Goldman, whose Baltimore cake emporium is the subject of the popular reality television show “Ace of Cakes,” spotted hints of his handiwork and called attention to the alleged pastry plagiarism with a side-by-side photo Friday evening. Source
  • Gambia's defeated president finally cedes power, to enter exile weeks after election loss

    World News CBC News
    Gambia's defeated leader Yahya Jammeh and his family headed into political exile Saturday night, ending a 22-year reign of fear and a post-election political standoff that threatened to provoke a regional military intervention when he clung to power. Source
  • Search intensifies for 23 in avalanche-struck hotel

    World News Toronto Sun
    FARINDOLA, Italy — Rescuers listened for signs Saturday of any more survivors, three days after an avalanche slammed into a resort hotel in Italy’s central Apennines mountains. Using saws, shovels and just gloved hands, they advanced slowly through the wreckage in hopes of locating some 23 guests and hotel workers still missing. Source
  • Canadians heading to women's march turned away at U.S. border

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The plan was simple. Montrealer Sasha Dyck and some friends would drive to Washington to join the Women's March. But when the six Canadians and two French nationals reached the border at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, in Quebec, they ran into trouble. Source
  • Trump's D.C. hotel a hub of activity and ethics questions

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Red, white and blue balloons rained down over crystal chandeliers in the soaring atrium of the Trump International Hotel at midnight Friday -- "a new inaugural tradition," its social media account promised. But while President Donald Trump's hotel in Washington did serve as a hub of inaugural activities, it also stands as ground zero for what top Democrats and some ethics advisers see as his unique web of conflicts of interest. Source
  • CTV News on the ground in Washington for Women's March

    World News CTV News
    CTV News reporters and producers are on the ground in Washington for the Women's March. For live updates from the scene, follow CTV News on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Here's some of their updates so far. Source
  • Brit and Canadian heading to Women's March turned away at U.S. border

    Canada News CTV News
    A U.K. national in Canada on a student visa says he and a friend were turned away at the U.S. border because they intended to go to Saturday's Women's March in Washington. Joe Kroese said he and his Canadian friend were trying to cross the border with two Americans on Thursday. Source
  • 'I am so behind you,' Trump assures CIA officials on 1st full day in office

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump moved to mend his tumultuous relationship with America's spy agencies Saturday, travelling to CIA headquarters on his first full day in office and assuring officials, "I am so behind you." But the president quickly shifted from praise for the CIA to criticism of media coverage of inauguration day, in an unscripted address that overstated the size of the crowd that gathered on the National Mall as he took the oath of office. Source
  • Mexican president congratulates Trump in phone conversation

    World News CTV News
    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump walks with Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto at the end of their joint statement at Los Pinos, the presidential official residence, in Mexico City on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. (AP / Dario Lopez-Mills) Source