Trampled Greek Pensioners Set Wave of Anti-Austerity Protests

FILE - Hundreds of pensioners demonstrated against more austerity measures planned by the Greek government, Athens, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Tatiana Bollari)

ATHENS – They haven’t worked yet but Greek pensioners crushed under rounds of benefit cuts will take to the streets again in a series of anti-austerity protests even though the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA has agreed to yet more slashes.

The first rally is due April 25 in front of Athens City Hall, before marching to Syntagma Square across from the Parliament, the scene of thousands of demonstrations and strikes since 2010 against repeated pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions, worker firings and the sale of state assets.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras campaigned against those before taking office in January, 2015 but within months agreed to even more, reneging on promises under pressure from the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) to get a third bailout, this one for 86 billion euros ($105.68 billion) he said he would never seek nor accept but did both.

Similar rallies have been planned for May 1, 15 and 25, as well as June 19 against cuts that have been benefits reduced as much as 50 percent, except for a favored few who were protected.

Tsipras, as did previous governments, has ignored the rallies and protests and he said he’s bringing a recovery without saying, if so, it’s on the back of the austerity measures he said he would reject but more of which he implemented, breaking promises.

Auxiliary pensions this year will be cut another 22 percent after he swore they wouldn’t and as Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, a Marxist economist forced into embarrassing surrenders to banks, Capitalists and the Troika, admitted overtaxing the middle class.

Based on social security laws introduced by former minister Giorgos Katrougalos and current minister Effie Achtsioglou, the new auxiliary pensions  and existing pensions cut 18 percent in 2019, said Kathimerini in December, 2017.

That means Greece’s crushing economic crisis, which in two years will be nine years long, will have seen pensioners lose half the benefits, lost from money deducted from their checks and set aside after years or decades of work, including big reductions to lump sums.

The SYRIZA-led coalition will also cut a monthly subsidy for low-income pensioners as much as 70 percent.

All intermediate bonus levels will be abolished, leaving a flat rate of 35 euros ($41.11)a month for all beneficiaries,including low-income pensioners who paid into private sector funds when employed and who will lose a big chunk of those contributions taken from their check and effectively stolen for their future.