Greece approves tough salary, pension cuts

The Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece — Greece's Parliament late on Tuesday approved new cuts in public sector pensions and government spending required to secure a second package of international rescue loans.

Lawmakers voted 202-80 in favor of cutbacks worth a total $4.31 billion and aimed at bringing the 2012 budget back in line with targets. Lawmakers from both parties in Prime Minister Lucas Papademos' coalition, the majority Socialists and the conservatives, backed the legislation.

The newly approved legislation imposes nearly $538 million in cuts to already depleted pensions.

Health and education spending will be reduced by more than $229 million, subsidies to the state health care system will be cut by $673 million, and health care spending on medicine will fall by $767 million.

Furthermore, some $538 million will be lopped off defense spending — three quarters of which will come from purchases.

Limits also are being imposed on collective wage agreements and the process of labor arbitration, with some measures to remain in effect until overall unemployment falls below 10 percent.

The new wave of austerity measures have sparked widespread anger among a public that has seen its income and living standards drop with no clear end to the crisis in sight.

Printed on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 as: Greece Parliament approves cuts to most government services