Greek bailout talks to continue amid clashes over pension reforms

Kathryn Gaw
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Tsipras has vowed not to cut main pensions (Source: Getty)

Greece is set to review its bailout progress on Monday, with pension reforms high on the agenda. The talks – which were initially scheduled to take place in December - are likely to last at least a couple of weeks.

The review comes as bailout monitors arrive in Athens to check on the progress of the reforms promised as part of the country’s €86bn (£65.4bn) bailout package.

Pension reforms are set to dominate the talks, against a background of parliamentary clashes and country-wide protests. Greece’s three main creditors - the International Monetary Fund, the European Investment Bank and the European Central Bank – are all insisting that pension cuts come into force as soon as possible.

Prime Minister Alex Tsipras has vowed not to cut main pensions, and intends to cover an expected €600m pension shortfall by temporarily raising employer contributions by 1.5 per cent and reducing benefits for the wealthiest pensioners. Newly-appointed opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has accused Tsipras of “incompetence” and claimed that the money could be raised through public sector restructuring instead.

Last week, Greek farmers protested the pension increase by blocking hundreds of roads with their tractors, while self-employed professionals marked their objections by marching through Athens.

Since 2010, the average Greek pension has been cut by 40-45 per cent, while the retirement age has risen to 67. More than a quarter of the country’s working population is currently unemployed.

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