Thousands march on Greek parliament over pension reform

Thousands marched on the Greek parliament on Saturday (January 23) in protest against planned pension cuts negotiated with the country's international creditors under the terms of its third bailout agreement.
The proposed reforms will be a test for the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who offered a plan that would cut future benefits by up to 30 percent and includes increases in social security contributions for employers and their workers. Tsipras' ruling coalition governs with a slim majority of three seats in parliament.
Chanting slogans such as "hands off our pensions", a sea of workers, students, and retired Greeks took to Athens' streets.
"We are fighting so that this specific bill is not even brought before parliament," said one man, a member of the firefighters' union named Dimitris Vlachos.
"We must stop this because it will deprive most people from having access to health care and social security," he said.
The protest was organized by PAME, a trade union affiliated with Greece's Communist Party. The demonstrators said they were exhausted with five years of austerity which has already reduced their pension packages repeatedly since the debt-laden country secured aid from European Union lenders and the International Monetary Fund.
The proposed reform programme requires Athens to reduce its pension budget by 1.8 billion euros this year.
The average monthly pension currently stands at about 850 euros.
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