Over 15,000 protesters marched on the streets of Athens to protest the latest austerity measures that will reform taxation and state pensions. The controversial vote to reform the state pensions by the Grecian Parliment is being dubbed a ‘solidarity tax’ and will introduce a national pension of 384 euros a month after 20 years of work, while removing benefits for lower-class pensioners in addition to recalculating pensions across the board.
The passing of these reforms will potentially lead to boosted tax revenues for Greece, which in turn will hopefully lead them to an unlocking of bailout cash. The goal for Greece is to meet a 3.5 percent budget surplus before interest payments start in 2018. Since Greece is in desperate need of a cash injection, and lawmakers believe these steps will get them the cash, hard decisions are being made on behalf of their citizens. However, many believe these changes will affect a working class that has been struggling with austerity over the last eight years. This could potentially lead them to a 55% income tax.
Al Jazeera’s John Psaropoulos explains the central conflict:
“People here feel that this bill coming at the end of a whole series of austerity bills over the last eight years simply adds too much to the burden of the average Greek household.”
The austerity measures are part of a plan by the European Union to bail out Greece for the third time since 2010. If they meet their surplus, they’ll receive 95 billion euros.
The protests started peacefully in a plea to reconsider the measures, with the communist-leaning PAME union having the largest turnout. They carried banners that read, “Social security, public and compulsory for all. The plutocracy must pay.” They led three-day strikes around the country.
Quickly, the protests turned violent.