May 6, 2010 / 5:36 PM / 10 years ago

FACTBOX-Greeks hit by a new wave of austerity

ATHENS, May 6 (Reuters) - Greece’s package of austerity measures is expected to affect people in all walks of life. Here are some examples.

CUTS HURT CIVIL SERVANTS MOST

Like many civil servants, nurse Nikos Gousios, 39, says his already low salary of about 1,300 euros a month will fall to just over a 1,000.

Cuts in supplementary allowances by 20 percent and a reduction to his Easter, Christmas and summer bonuses — also known as 13th and 14th salary — will limit his family’s only income by at least 15 percent.

Gousios, a father of two, says he spends most of his salary on food, clothes and bills, all of which will be more expensive by a VAT hike to 23 percent from 19 percent earlier this year.

“How will we make ends meet?,” said Gousios, who joined the mass protest on Wednesday. “We spend everything I make on my kids. We do nothing for ourselves anymore.”

SHORT-LIVED RELIEF FOR PRIVATE SECTOR

Most private sector workers feel relieved that measures did not affect their salaries but labour law changes may make it easier for employers to fire them and a reduced minimum wage will affect those already making the lowest income of 740 euros a month.

Haroula Marouda, a 35-year old bar tender, lives on 1,200 euros a month and says she is now more insecure about her job. Sharing a flat with a friend she pays 275 euros a month for rent and the bulk of her salary goes to bills that will increase as a result of excise tax on fuel and cigarettes. Her groceries and other necessities will also become more expensive as tax hikes kick in and she counts on her parents to make ends meet.

“I’m grateful I have a job. Most of my friends don’t have one,” said Marouda, who studied to be a interior decorator but could not find work in her field. “I don’t go out and I stopped shopping for clothes. My father helps me out sometimes.”

BUSINESSES HIT BY MEASURES

Shops and businesses say they are hit both by the increase in taxes and the reduced spending power of their customers. Tom-John Tsitsogiannis, 36, said his hair salon has seen business drop by at least 20 percent since the crisis started and fears the worst is still ahead.

Regular customers visit less frequently while a high central Athens rent, salaries for four staff and bills have driven his costs up.

“It’s a domino effect,” Tsitsogiannis said. “People are afraid to spend and the future is uncertain.”

The VAT increase to 23 percent — the second hike in just two months — is making him more expensive to clients while he has to pay more for the products he uses. He is still resisting pressure to cut prices, like some of his competitors, but has abandoned plans to hire one more employee.

PENSIONERS BRACE FOR WORSE

Shopping in a supermarket in Athens, 65-year old public sector pensioner Makis Pistolis has only put bread, cabbage and a few oranges in his basket.

“I feel depressed. I’ve cut on expenses because I fear worse days are coming. I brace for the storm,” said Pistolis, who retired in 2007 after working for 37 years in a state-owned enterprise.

Pensioners have been especially hard hit by the measures, which have hit those earnine more than 2,500 euros a month the worst. Pistolis, who earns 38,500 a year, said his annual income was expected to be reduced by 25 percent percent due to the cut in bonuses.

Other pensioners will see further cuts from reduced salary allowances and would cut pensions of those earning more than 1,800 euros a month by up to 9 percent. (Writing by Renee Maltezou and Ingrid Melander; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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