Farmers hold ground ahead of major strike week

Opposition to the government’s plans for pension reform grew over the weekend with farmers keeping hundreds of tractors parked at key junctions of the national road network, as a range of self-employed professionals including doctors, lawyers, engineers and notaries, plan further protests.

Farmers stepped up the pressure on the government for concessions, bolstering road blocks and setting up new blockades to create transport disruption.

On Saturday morning, producers temporarily blocked Markopoulou Avenue, disrupting traffic en route to the Athens International Airport. In northern and central Greece and the Peloponnese, barricades remained in place as unionists met to discuss their next steps.

Labor Minister Giorgos Katrougalos indicated on Saturday, in an interview with Naftemporiki, that the government may be able to offer farmers some concessions, including guaranteeing a minimum pension payout when they retire irrespective of their income.

But the authorities are under equal pressure from other sectors. Many trade unions are planning walkouts, culminating in Thursday’s general strike, which will disrupt public services and transport. Greek seamen, who have held a series of rolling strikes, are to join the action and continue through to Saturday morning, paralyzing ferry services.

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