Page last updated at 16:03 GMT, Monday, 3 May 2010 17:03 UK

Greeks reply to financial bailout

Greeks from the public and private sector discuss how they will be affected by forthcoming spending cuts and tax rises designed to save their country from going bankrupt.

Elias Eliadis, 47, unemployed public sector worker, Athens

I am an unemployed public sector worker, after losing my job with Olympic Airways last December.

Elias Eliadis

When the company closed with the loss of 4,000 jobs, half of us could retire and the rest were entitled under law to be transferred to other public sector employment - but we are still waiting.

At 47 I was one of the youngest, but I am not at all hopeful of finding work. We are living off my savings.

I believe these austerity measures will do more harm than good. It's going to make us pay more taxes when our salaries are going down. The cost of living is high, we simply don't have enough money for it.

They should take the money from those who stole it, from the high-powered state officials. They are trying to get the money back from the wrong people.

I believe the government wants to do the right thing, I just don't think it's going about it the right way.

If it weren't for the euro, we might have actually gone broke as a country.

Vasilis Papas, 43, bank employee, Athens

Despite the loud minorities you see protesting on the news, most people understand the need for austerity and fiscal measures.

Unless the Greek state is shrunk, Greece will default

But these will not deal with the cause of our problems, which is the bloated and inefficient state.

Unless the Greek state is shrunk dramatically and prevented from interfering with private enterprise, the economy will not recover, the deficit will not decrease and Greece will eventually default.

We must try to reform the competitiveness of the private sector.

Currently if unions cannot agree with a private sector employer on a pay deal, they have the right unilaterally to go to arbitration. The arbitrators usually rule in favour of the employees, so in this way, the unions rule the private sector.

I think the government will enforce the fiscal measures it has given such detail on: the VAT increase, public sector pay freeze etc, but I am less confident they will enforce the necessary structural reform.

It's good we're in Europe: I am afraid that with the politicians we have, things would have been even worse if we weren't in the euro.

Michael Kakalelis, 47, private sector bank worker, Thessaloniki

We fully understand the need for the government's fiscal measures, however painful.

Mihail Kakalelis

They were needed a long time go, to halt the huge expansion of the public sector. People would take their pension at 50, or even 45 - someone had to pay for this.

But it is unfair to now treat a whole country like a failing company. Our politicians in Europe should be more than accountants.

For at least two decades we thought the state would reform itself, but it's now known nothing was done in this time, so we have to start again.

I think it's time to give the EU stronger powers, so we have the same fiscal policies across Europe. Many people here thought being in the EU meant that if our own politicians couldn't enforce things, the EU would. Unfortunately, this didn't happen.

This government is at least trying to move us in right direction.

George Thetocatos, 88, retired on private pension, Thessaloniki

The more obediently we comply with these measures, the sooner we will recover. The government had no other alternative.

Often in Greece parliamentary laws are not implemented

Until six months ago I supported the previous conservative government, but now I don't. They hadn't told us a word about what was really going on financially.

The present government are the least responsible for this mess, they have just disclosed the situation. Now we are on edge of bankruptcy.

For years, governments gave in to demands for higher salaries, fewer hours. People were retiring as young as 48. Can you believe it?

If the laws are enforced it will be OK, but often in Greece parliamentary laws are not implemented, especially ones on public order.

A few days ago striking union workers in Piraeus port prevented thousands of rich tourists from disembarking from their cruiser - so they couldn't come and spend their money. That was a big blow to our economy.

I have a private sector pension. Until recently we thought our pensions would be cut too, but yesterday a reprieve was announced, so I feel I have got a pay rise!

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