Pensioners march in protest at cuts in Crete

Dozens of pensioners from around Crete took the streets of Hania on Tuesday and marched to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce to protest government plans for further pension and benefit cuts to bring state spending in line with creditors' demands.

The protesters were mostly recipients of pensions from the IKA Social Security Foundation, and were also joined by former civil service workers and merchants.

They were protesting plans to introduce further reductions and a ceiling to pensions, slashing the 13th and 14th pension -- which are disbursed in three installments at Christmas, Easter and during the summer -- as well as reductions in special benefits and a lump sum given at retirement. They were also protesting ongoing action by the country's pharmacists who are refusing to fulfill prescriptions on credit for patients insured with the National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY) until they are paid their arrears by the government.

"The measures being pushed through will exacerbate the position of pensioners and will lead them to poverty, to annihilation,» the head of the association representing IKA pensioners, Iraklis Anagnostopoulos, said.