In Greece, politicians agree on austerity deal

Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration in Athens. Why does Europe continue to help bailout Greece?

Kai Ryssdal: Don't quote me on this, but there's a debt deal in Athens. It's not about bond payments, though, or renegotiating existing debts with the European Union or the IMF. It's a domestic austerity package -- deep budget cuts and labor market reforms, all with the aim of convincing the EU and the IMF that Greece deserves a second bailout.

Marketplace's Stephen Beard is in Athens. He's been out on the streets all day.


Stephen Beard: Today Greece's two main unions digested the details of the plan. And they delivered their considered response: They poured thousands of protesting workers onto the streets and called a two day national strike. Bystanders seem to support the protest.

Theodoros Tsionas says, "I feel betrayed. I have worked all my life. Now my pension's going down. Greece is being destroyed."

The plan includes 15,000 public sector job losses and a 22 percent cut in the minimum wage. Greece is deep in recession. Birgitta Vavasaldeh says we don't need more austerity.

Birgitta Vavasaldeh: I don't think it's a solution to the problem of growth. Unless we solve the growth problem, in six months we'll be in the same position.

But without the bailout Greece could suffer a messy default and a banking collapse. Some Athenians support the bailout plan. Pericles Sofrania says, "I think this could make things better."

But among public sector workers like Despina Koutzoumba -- whose salary last month was cut in half -- there is mounting despair and anger.

Despina Koutzoumba: My daughter is 7 years old. Last year I was buying her a book every week, now I can't do that. She asks me for a book and I can't afford it.

Greece's three main political parties have signed up to the bailout the plan. But implementing won't be easy.

In Athens, I'm Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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