Violence breaks out at Athens protest over pension reforms

ATHENS, Greece -- Sporadic clashes broke out in central Athens Thursday as tens of thousands marched to the Greek Parliament during a general strike called to protest planned pension reforms that are part of the country's third international bailout.

See Full Article

Dozens of hooded anarchists threw petrol bombs and stones at riot police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. Police said a journalist was attacked by rioters and taken to hospital but was not in serious condition.

Overall, police said about 40,000 people took part in two separate, consecutive demonstrations through central Athens. Smaller protests were held in other major cities.

Unions are angry at pension reforms that are part of Greece's third international bailout. The left-led government is trying to overhaul the country's ailing pension system by increasing social security contributions to avoid pension cuts, but critics say the reforms will lead many to lose two-thirds of their income.

Opposition to the reform has been vociferous, uniting a disparate group of professions, including farmers, artists, taxi drivers, lawyers, doctors, engineers and seamen among others.

Thursday's general strike is the most significant the coalition government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has faced since he initially came to power a little more than a year ago. As an opposition party, Tsipras' radical left Syriza party had led opposition to pension reforms, but he was forced to ditch his earlier stance when faced with the stark choice of signing up to a third bailout or the country having to leave the euro currency.

Syriza's difficulties with the pension reform plan were evident in the party's statement that it was backing Thursday's strike.

Athens pensioner Yannis Kouvalakis said Tsipras' government "fooled" Greeks by promising to reverse austerity cuts.

"Because they are from the left, what happened? Was the situation saved? Things got worse. They'd said they'd give some money to pensioners or the unemployed, increase the minimum wage to 750 euros (per month)," he said. "They cut five euros from my pension ... What can they give? Forget it."

The strike comes as the government negotiates with Greece's international debt inspectors, who returned to Athens this week to review progress on the country's bailout obligations. The central Athens hotel where the inspectors were staying was heavily guarded by police.

Ferries between Greece's islands and the mainland remained tied up in port as part of the strike, while only limited public transport was operating in Athens for a few hours in the day and taxis also stayed off the streets. More than a dozen domestic flights were cancelled, while farmers maintained their blockades of highways that have forced motorists into lengthy detours.

State-run hospitals were functioning on emergency staff, while state schools, many shops and gas stations were shut.

Now: Tear gas & cocktail bombs in Syntagma in middle of large demonstration during today's general strike #Greecepic.twitter.com/OmPdFkGqXF

— Daphne Tolis (@daphnetoli) February 4, 2016


Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Istanbul's Pride march to go ahead despite governor's ban

    World News CTV News
    ISTANBUL -- Activists for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex rights said they will march for LGBT pride in Istanbul on Sunday, despite a ban by the governor. Organizers of the 2017 Istanbul LGBTI Pride called for the gathering to begin at 5 p.m. Source
  • 'I could hear people screaming'; Oil tanker explodes in Pakistan, killing 153 who tried to gather leaking fuel [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    BAHAWALPUR, Pakistan — An overturned oil tanker burst into flames in Pakistan on Sunday, killing 153 people who had rushed to the scene of the highway accident to gather leaking fuel, a hospital official said as the death toll continued to rise. Source
  • UK: All building cladding samples tested failed fire safety

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Britain's government urged local officials across the country Sunday to urgently submit samples of tower block cladding after tests found that all samples tested so far have failed fire safety standards. In London, officials tried Sunday to complete the evacuation of hundreds of apartments in four towers deemed unsafe, but faced resistance as several families refused to budge. Source
  • Turkey's Erdogan rejects Arab demands; troops to stay in Qatar

    World News CTV News
    ISTANBUL -- Turkey's president on Sunday rejected a demand by major Arab states to remove Turkish troops from Qatar, saying their sweeping list of ultimatums has threatened the small Gulf country's sovereignty. Speaking after Eid al-Fitr prayers in Istanbul, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the demand "disrespectful" and said Turkey would not seek permission from others when making its defenceco-operation agreements. Source
  • No winning ticket for Saturday night's $9.4M Lotto 649 jackpot

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- No winning ticket was sold for the $9.4 million jackpot in Saturday night's Lotto 649 draw. However, the guaranteed $1 million prize was claimed by a ticket holder in Ontario. The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on June 28 will be approximately $12 million. Source
  • Trudeau to march in Toronto Pride Parade today

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will march in Canada's largest Pride parade today. Trudeau, who became the first sitting prime minister to march in a Pride parade during last year's event, will be joined by other dignitaries including Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde and more than 150 groups and organizations. Source
  • Talks continue between Ontario's liquor board and workers

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Talks are continuing today between the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and its workers, who have threatened to go on strike at one minute past midnight. But there's no word on how the talks between the LCBO and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union are going. Source
  • Vehicle crashes into pedestrians in Newcastle, U.K.; terrorism not suspected

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Six people, including three children, were injured after a car ran into pedestrians outside a Newcastle sports center where people were reportedly gathered to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Police said the incident was not believed to be terror-related. Source
  • Ten bodies found, scores missing in massive China landslide

    World News CTV News
    MAO COUNTY, China -- Rescuers recovered 10 bodies and were still searching for 93 other people on Sunday, a day after a massive landslide buried a picturesque mountain village in southwestern China. More than 2,500 rescuers with detection devices and dogs were looking for signs of life amid the rubble of huge boulders that rained down on Xinmo village in Sichuan province early Saturday. Source
  • Overturned oil tanker explodes in Pakistan, killing 153

    World News CTV News
    BAHAWALPUR , Pakistan -- An overturned oil tanker burst into flames in Pakistan on Sunday, killing 153 people who had rushed to the scene of the highway accident to gather leaking fuel, a hospital official said as the death toll continued to rise. Source