Greece is not having an easy time finding a way out of its debt crisis. The government is slashing spending, and pushing through sweeping pension and labour reforms. And now, anger from labour unions are adding to the country's woes.
Greece is at an extremely precarious moment, with its financial troubles now spilling into social unrest. Debate on the proposed pension and labour reform bill began in parliament this week. At the same time, a nationwide strike has been called by the country's unions. Despite the difficult economic times, Greek workers are demanding that their rights be considered.
Spyros Papaspyros, Chairman of Adedy Civil Servants' Union said "We are in a particularly critical period for the country that's made mobilization difficult. The struggle regarding pension reform is ongoing, and will be the blueprint on which future struggles will be based."
Workers expect to see results from the strike, and unions intend to stage more protests later in the year. They are considering legal action if parts of the bill are found to be unconstitutional.
Residents in Athens have responded negatively to the proposed pension reforms, many objecting to the increase in retirement age.
Giorgos Tsakas, Pensioner of Athens, Greece said "You can't withhold the pension until people are 65 or 70. After 55, your physical strength diminishes and you cannot work, you cannot contribute. And if you take 70 as the average life expectancy, after you retire you die and it's all over. I find it completely inhumane."
Current proposed changes include raising the retirement age to 65, and increasing employee contributions.
If Greek parliament passes the new bill, the country is set to be rocked by further strikes and protests.