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Greece strikes ahead of key reform vote

Friday, May 06, 2016 - 01:36

The pressure builds on the Greek parliament to pass a package of reforms needed to unblock bailout funds, ahead of a Eurogroup meeting on Monday. As David Pollard reports, Greek unions are starting a two-day strike to vent their anger at the new proposals.

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It helps if you're a stoic in Greece. Public transport lockdowns familiar, perhaps, but frustrating nonetheless. Though nothing compared to the anger fuelling two days of nationwide public sector strikes. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) PROTESTER, STEPHANOS, SAYING: "They have to take back the measures, this cannot go on any longer...and the government has to understand that too." Those measures: tax hikes and deep cuts to pension spending. Reforms that must be implemented, say Greece's creditors, if it's to get its next five billion euros of bailout. Parliament votes on them this Sunday - the government hoping a wafer slim majority's enough to get them through. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) LABOR MINISTER, GEORGE KATROUGALOS, SAYING: "We are in a situation where the national wealth of the nation is much smaller - we are one fourth poorer than we were in 2010 - and we must distribute a smaller piece of pension pie." Greece is due to pay some of the money back to its creditors and settle state arrears. But divisions between those creditors have slowed progress - the IMF and euro zone at odds over budget targets and debt relief. The Eurogroup is expected to discuss the deadlock on Monday. SOUNDBITE (English) CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, CEBR, VICKY PRYCE, SAYING: "I think another crisis in Greece is not going to be good news, particularly at a time when everyone is worrying also about Brexit, but also because Greece is so crucial in what's happening right now in trying to sort out, or certainly in trying to limit, the flow of refugees from the Middle East." Some IOUs are due in July, but one economist spoke of reports of public sector wage bills due next month. Time then, like money, in short supply.

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Greece strikes ahead of key reform vote

Friday, May 06, 2016 - 01:36