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Greek lawmakers agreed in principle on an overhaul of the country's ailing pension system in a preliminary vote Wednesday. This is a good sign that a reform key to restoring the country's ailing finances is likely to pass.
The reform is one of the most controversial undertaken by the Socialist government struggling with a debt crisis. The reform was also a key element of a 110 billion euro bailout agreement with the EU and the IMF.
The bill reforms a social security system experts expect to collapse in 15 years if no changes are made. The reform cuts benefits, curbs widespread early retirement, increases the number of contribution years from 35-37 to 40 and raises women's retirement age from 60 to 65.
For the bill to become law it must be approved in a second vote expected Thursday. That same day a 24-hour general strike will be organized by the country's main public and private sector unions who are against the pension reform bill.