'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.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Austin, Texas, authorities report another explosion

    World News CBC News
    Austin, Texas, authorities say emergency personnel are responding to another reported explosion, this one at a Goodwill store in the southern part of the city. Austin-Travis County emergency services tweeted Thursday evening that at least one person was injured but that details about the severity of those injuries and the explosion itself were unknown. Source
  • Mueller should be allowed to 'finish his job,' McConnell says

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday expressed confidence in special counsel Robert Mueller and said he should be allowed to "finish his job," the Senate leader's first response to President Donald Trump's recent outburst of criticism of Mueller and his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Source
  • Manitoba moves to ban smoking weed at beaches, parks

    Canada News CTV News
    WINNIPEG -- Even after the federal government legalizes recreational marijuana later this year, Manitobans aren't likely to have many places where they will be allowed to use it. The Progressive Conservative government introduced a bill Tuesday that would forbid people from smoking or vaping cannabis in almost all public areas. Source
  • Alberta-Saskatchewan licence plate dispute doesn't require summit: minister

    Canada News CTV News
    REGINA - Saskatchewan's minister of trade says there is no need to meet with Alberta officials to discuss a short-lived ban on Alberta licence plates on government construction projects. Jeremy Harrison says the issue has been dealt with. Source
  • Trump calls to congratulate Putin on election win

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday called Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his re-election and said they would likely meet soon as relations between the two countries grow more strained over allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. Source
  • US$500K bond for Florida shooting suspect's brother in school trespass

    World News CTV News
    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A judge set an unusually high $500,000 bond on Tuesday and imposed a host of other restrictions for the brother of the Florida school shooting suspect who was charged with trespassing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Source
  • N.S. surplus boosted by marijuana sales, as province plans modest spending hikes

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia's Liberal government is counting on cash from marijuana sales to help it deliver a third consecutive balanced budget, which includes modest spending increases for a heavily stressed health system. Overall, the province is projecting a $29.4-million surplus on a $10.8-billion budget, as it continues to make progress on debt control. Source
  • Ex-French president Sarkozy in custody over Gadhafi claims

    World News CBC News
    Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was placed in custody on Tuesday as part of an investigation into allegations he received millions of euros in illegal campaign financing from the regime of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Source
  • Signed Howe jersey, Tragically Hip autograph exchanged for drugs: Calgary Police

    Canada News CTV News
    Calgary Police have recovered a number of collectibles including a framed jersey signed by former hockey legend Gordie Howe as part of a drug investigation. Investigators arrested a man late last month and say they believe stolen property was exchanged for drugs over a period of nine days. Source
  • University teachers group launches inquiry into case of outspoken Acadia prof

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- The Canadian Association of University Teachers is launching an inquiry into the case of an outspoken East Coast professor under investigation following complaints over his polarizing views. The association says it has appointed a committee to review how Nova Scotia's Acadia University is handling grievances against Rick Mehta to determine whether his academic freedom has been breached or threatened, and make any appropriate recommendations. Source