Greek strikers demand post-bailout pay increases

15 Nov 18

Civil servants in Greece went on a 24-hour strike demanding increases in wages and pensions from the government, which exited its bailout programme in August.

The Greek government is still bound by lenders to keep its spending in check. It needs to achieve a primary budget surplus of 3.5% of its annual output in the medium term under a post-bailout supervision programme. This excludes debt servicing costs.

The strike shut down local government, and some workers in state-run hospitals also marched through Athens on Wednesday, just months after the country exited the bailout package arranged to tackle its debt crisis.

The strike was organised by the ADEDY union, which represents about half a million public sector workers, and was the first major walkout since Greece came out of the bailout programme.

The union wants the government to retract pay and pension cuts and tax increases made since 2010 under the country’s three bailout programmes.

ADEDY chairman Ioannis Paidas said, referring to two annual bonuses abolished by then-ruling Socialists in 2010: “We demand the pay freeze be rescinded; a 2%-3% increase [in salaries] to end 10 years of cutbacks; and for 13th and 14th salaries to be restored.

“Since [prime minister Alexis] Tsipras says the country is returning to normal, we want decent salary increases.”

Since the first financial help in 2010, public sector workers have seen earnings shrink by up to 40%. Between then and this year, Greece relied on more than €260bn lent by its eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund.

In August, the IMF warned that Greece should be realistic about its economic goals, despite its progress under the loan programmes.

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