Thousands strike in Greece against pension reforms
(dpa) - Thousands of public and private sector workers demonstrated in central Athens Wednesday against a pension reform bill they say will curb benefits.
Chanting "Leave our pension funds alone," more than 7,000 union members marched through the Greek capital, which is filled with mounts of garbage due to a municipal workers strike.
Workers have launched a wave of strikes to protest proposed pension reforms, which look to increase retirement ages while cutting benefits to millions of future retirees.
They are also protesting government efforts to merge dozens of pension funds into five to eight main funds.
Work stoppages on Wednesday halted public transportation, including flights at Athens' International Airport, as well as public services.
State carrier Olympic Airlines cancelled seven flights due to the three hour work stoppages while lawyers, doctors, port workers and engineers joined in the strike.
Bank employees also took part in the stoppage and said they will launch a 48-hour strike on Thursday.
Meanwhile, rolling strikes have also caused power shortages throughout the country as workers at the Public Power Corporation have walked off the job.
The conservative government, under the leadership of Costas Karamanlis, is under pressure to press forward with reforms, mainly involving the country's ailing pension system which runs the risk of going bankrupt in 20 years because of an ageing population and low birth rate.
Unions plan more strikes this week and a nationwide 24-hour strike on March 19.