Greek government approves pension reform bill

ATHENS, May 10 (Reuters) - The Greek government approved on Monday a pension reform bill aimed at saving its ailing social security system as the country struggles to reduce its debt mountain. The bill, drawn up after consultations with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, raises the retirement age for women and discourages workers from taking their pension early. "We are saving the pensions and healthcare not only of this but also of future generations. We are saving the economy," Labour Minister Andreas Loverdos told reporters after a cabinet meeting. The bill is expected to be submitted to parliament in the next ten days and will be voted on in June. The socialist government has a comfortable parliamentary majority. The main labour unions oppose the bill, saying it will put a further burden on the poor who have already been hit by other sweeping austerity measures. Greece, one of several EU countries facing a pension crisis because of its ageing population, has been urged by Brussels to revamp its fragmented, wasteful and mismanaged social security system. Loverdos said that if the pension system was left unchanged it could cost the government up to 24 percent of GDP in 2050. ((For a factbox on the pension reform click on: )) (Reporting by Renee Maltezou, editing by Tim Pearce) Keywords: GREECE PENSION/ (; +30 210 3376439, Reuters COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.

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