The latest protest against the measures being taken by Greece to reduce the deficit has involved a 24 hour public transport strike. All public transport including flights has come to a standstill and later Athens will be host to a public sector protest also.
The strikes are a result of further, more severe actions being taken by the Greek government to cut back on its spending, including additional pension cuts and more redundancies. The reason for the stricter movements is the increasing possibility that Greece may not meet the specifications, set by the European Union and the European Central Bank, in order to receive the next instalment of its £110Bn bailout fund, which will prove vital in enabling the struggling country to keep its head above water. The latest payment from the loan has already been postponed by one month and therefore, Greece is determined to take the necessary actions to ease investors’ fears that it will default.
Athens has been greatly disrupted by the protests as most main roads were gridlocked as a result of all public transport being cancelled, and work was also abandoned by some civil servants and teachers.
There will be further protests against the cuts in October as arranged by the GSEE, the biggest union for the private sector, with Yannis Panagopoulos the union president claiming that they will never willingly accept the new policies.
Civil servants, pensioners and many of those currently earning below the tax threshold will be most affected by the recent austerity measures. Anyone receiving a monthly pension of more than 1,200 euro will experience a 20% cut in the money their income and those receiving a monthly pension of more than 1,000 euro who are under the age of 55 will suffer a 40% cut. In addition, 50% more civil servants are expected to be given leave with reduced pay and the personal allowance tax threshold will be reduced to 5,000 euros.
The Greek government has come under heavy criticism from the media and business sector with one newspaper describing the pensioners and civil servants as having been sacrificed.
In response to the disapproval, the head of the Athens Chamber of Commerce, Constantinos Michalos expressed an understanding. He acknowledged that protests and public anger are certain and agreed that the government were taking more from the Greek public than they were giving in support.
However, the Greek government maintains that the measures that are being taken are in the best interests of everyone, and the alternative would be much worse. If harsh policies are not imposed, the next loan will not be granted and everyone will be much worse off as Greece will face bankruptcy.
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