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

  • Mormon church appoints 93-year-old ex-surgeon as president

    World News CTV News
    SALT LAKE CITY -- The 93-year-old former heart surgeon named Tuesday as the new president of the Mormon Church signalled his intention to make few changes in policy regarding the role of women and LGBT issues -- two topics that the faith has grappled with in recent years. Source
  • Republican official accused of 'amnesia' on Trump vulgarity

    World News CTV News
    WARNING: This story contains language some readers may find offensive WASHINGTON -- Republicans struggled to get their stories straight Tuesday as U.S. President Donald Trump's Homeland Security secretary became the latest GOP official to offer an inconclusive version of a meeting in which Trump is said to have used vulgar remarks that have been criticized as racist. Source
  • N.S. garage rebuilds vintage truck for man with terminal cancer

    Canada News CTV News
    A garage in Nova Scotia is helping a man from the Northwest Territories with terminal brain cancer realize his dream of seeing his 1965 Chevrolet pickup truck completely rebuilt as a gift for his 21-year-old son. Source
  • Chelsea Manning's U.S. Senate bid could upend Maryland race

    World News CTV News
    BALTIMORE -- Chelsea Manning's high-profile bid for the U.S. Senate threatens to upend the 2018 Maryland Democratic primary. The former U.S. Army private convicted of leaking over 700,000 classified documents has an uphill battle to defeat Sen. Source
  • Alberta monitors, makes contingency plans on road clearing in U.K. firm bankruptcy

    Canada News CTV News
    EDMONTON -- Alberta's transportation minister says they are making contingency plans to clear and maintain roads as they monitor the financial fallout of a multinational United Kingdom construction company. Brian Mason says for now they believe the bankruptcy of Carillion PLC won't affect the operations of its Canadian subsidiary. Source
  • 'Failure was not an option,' says Georgia firefighter who caught girl dropped from blazing building

    World News CBC News
    more stories from this episode'Failure was not an option,' says Georgia firefighter who caught girl dropped from blazing buildingA rare fly stands between a U.S. billionaire and his proposed Scottish golf course'Final act of the cover up': Dublin councillor blasts plan to turn last Magdalene laundry into a hotelFull Episode Source
  • Halifax considers banning plastic shopping bags

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- As the fight against the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag ratchets up around the world, Atlantic Canada's biggest municipality is looking to join the growing ranks of cities and countries banning, restricting or taxing single-use plastic bags. Source
  • Ontario man charged with trying lure boy killed in Florida jail

    Canada News CTV News
    MARIANNA, Fla. - Police say an 82-year-old Ontario man has been killed in a Florida jail, allegedly by his cellmate. Arthur Williams of Tillsonburg, Ont., was in custody after being charged for allegedly trying to lure a nine-year-old boy. Source
  • Air Canada flight diverts to Thunder Bay, man charged with assault

    Canada News CTV News
    THUNDER BAY, Ont. - Police say an Ottawa man has been charged after an Air Canada flight was diverted to Thunder Bay, Ont., because of an unruly passenger. Thunder Bay police say officers were sent to Thunder Bay International Airport last Friday and boarded the plane just after 4 p.m. Source
  • Danish submarine owner Peter Madsen charged with killing Swedish journalist Kim Wall

    World News CBC News
    Inventor Peter Madsen was charged Tuesday with killing Swedish journalist Kim Wall during a trip on his private submarine, with prosecutors saying he either cut her throat or strangled her before dismembering her body and dumping it into the sea. Source