ATHENS May 17 Greek ferry, bus and train
services were disrupted and civil servants and doctors stopped
work in nationwide walkout on Wednesday, as lawmakers debated
austerity measures that lenders want the indebted country to
The protest strike was called by the main public and private
sector unions a day before parliament was due to vote on reforms
that would unlock the next tranche of funds from an
Greece agreed this month on further spending cuts to end a
logjam in talks with lenders. Once the new measures are approved
by Greek lawmakers, Euro zone finance ministers will then
discuss the disbursement of loans at the next scheduled
Eurogroup meeting on May 22.
Athens needs the funds urgently to repay 7.5 billion euro
($8.18 billion) in debt maturing in July.
As part of the reforms, Athens has promised to cut pensions
in 2019 and cut the tax-free threshold in 2020 to produce
savings worth 2 percent of gross domestic product.
If it outperforms those targets, it will activate a set of
measures offsetting the impact of additional austerity,
including mainly lowering taxes.
Greece has needed three multi-billion bailouts since 2010
and additional spending cuts are a contentious issue for Prime
Minister Alexis Tsipras.
"We have been fooled. We believed in their promises," said
Nikos Moustakas, 71, a retired mechanic who worked for 38
"They have lost me as a voter," he said.
Tsipras was first elected in 2015 on a pledge to end
austerity but was forced to relent months later in order to
agree a new bailout package to stave off bankruptcy.
Tsipras is trailing in opinion polls, but his governing
coalition has a small, but firm majority in the 300-member
(Reporting by Michele Kambas and George Georgiopoulos; Editing
by Simon Cameron-Moore)