The month-long mass protests by Greek farmers against pension reform that have paralyzed much of the country appear to have entered a new stage as most of their representatives have opted for talks with the government. However, some unions seem to have no intention of backing down in the struggle to protect their future.
Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has been saying all along that reforms are “not optional,” but that has not stopped farmers and virtually the entire Greek labor force from engaging in marches and demonstrations against the plan to overhaul the country’s ailing pension system.
Ten days ago, the farmers took their grievances directly to the heart of the capital, protesting outside the Greek parliament in a cloud of police tear gas and pelting riot police with tomatoes.
Still, it seems that some Greek farmers are getting tired after a month-long struggle against the government’s proposed plan for pension reform and are now willing to engage in a dialogue with PM Alexis Tsipras, which is what the Greek government was expecting to happen all along.
Following today’s meeting in Nikea, farmers’ representatives decided unanimously to hold talks with the Greek prime minister, but farmers in eastern Macedonia and Thrace rejected holding talks with the government and plan to continue their protests.
However, even the farmers’ union, open to holding talks with the prime minister, insist on the withdrawal of the pension reform plan and seek government concessions on a number of vital issues, including the contentious plan that farmers be taxed from the very first euro they put in their cash register.