Greece has slashed average pension payments by more than 40 percent since 2010 as part of spending cuts required by the Troika of the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission. In the latest round of negotiations, creditors are insisting on pension and wage savings worth 1.8 billion euros ($2 billion) as a condition of continuing to help Greece pay its debts. The commission has sought the gradual elimination of early retirement and more cuts to even the lowest pensions.
This is a politically charged issue, since pensions function as the Greek equivalent of Social Security. With unemployment so high, many pensioners are supporting their adult children. The average main pension: 713 euros a month. Recent government data indicate nearly 45 percent of 2.65 million Greek retirees live at or below the poverty line.
Today Greek pensioners surround bank branches only to learn they cannot cash their retirement checks until further notice.