Strikes Disrupt Greek Services

BusinessWeek and other sources are reporting that Greek unions have disrupted transport and state services for a second time in as many weeks today after parliament backed Prime Minister George Papandreou’s overhaul of the pension system.

The plan, which includes lower pension payments and later retirement, was carried by 159 votes to 137 in the parliament in Athens late yesterday. Papandreou, who expelled three members of his Pasok party for defying him in a May vote on austerity measures, won support even though some lawmakers indicated they may oppose articles that will be voted on individually today. A final vote on the bill will follow.

The country’s two biggest unions, representing more than two million working Greeks, will hold a rally and march to parliament as lawmakers continue their debate on the bill. Papandreou committed himself to the pension overhaul to secure $139 billion in emergency loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund that allowed Greece to avert a default on its debt.

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