Thousands of demonstrators protested outside Greece's parliament over the controversial government plans to overhaul pension and to increase taxes, which lawmakers later agreed to. A 48-hour strike took place prior to the lawmakers' decision, and began on 6 May 2016. It saw people working in all kinds of occupations storm the streets of the Greek capital and in Thessaloniki, demanding that the new reforms should not go ahead. Public transport was halted in many areas.

Greece: pension and tax reforms
Protesters gather during a protest rally against the latest reform measures demanded by Greece's creditors, in front of the Greek parliament building in AthensLouisa Gouliamaki/AFP

Although the demonstrations began peacefully, many ended in violence. Pelting the police officers with stones, the demonstrators were then sprayed with tear gas after certain groups hurled petrol bombs in central Athens square. Despite the protests, the new austerity measures were voted through, after all 153 lawmakers voted in favour in order to meet demands of Greece's bailout creditors – the third international bailout the country has witnessed. "We have an important opportunity before us for the country to break this vicious cycle, and enter a virtuous cycle," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told the lawmakers.

Greece pension and tax reforms
Members of the communist-affiliated PAME union shout slogans during a 48-hour general strike against tax and pension reforms in Athens, GreeceAlkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
Greece pension and tax reforms
A lawyer holds a tie and a picture of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during a protest rally against the latest reform measures demanded by Greece's creditors, in front of the Greek parliament building in AthensLouisa Gouliamaki/AFP
Greece pension and tax reforms
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras attends his party's lawmakers meeting inside the Greek Parliament in Athens, GreeceMilos Bicanski/Getty
Greece pension and tax reforms
A member of the communist-affiliated PAME union lights a flare, as the parliament building is seen in the background, during a 48-hour general strike against tax and pension reforms in Athens, GreeceAlkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

The positive sign off on the reform review is that it will unlock more than 5 billion euros, easing Greece's financial concerns, allowing debt repayments to mature in June and July. The country also hopes that the signify will laugh a discussion over debt relief. Yet the workers don't believe the new reforms will be of any benefit. It will see an increase of a so-called 'solidarity tax' and introduces a national pension of 384 euros a month after 20 years of work, but will phase out a benefit for poor pensioners and recalculates pensions.

"Mr. Prime Minister, you promised hope and turned it into despair," said Fofi Gennimata, leader of the opposition PASOK socialists told Reuters.

Greece pension and tax reforms
Lawyers shout slogans during a demonstration against the latest reform measures demanded by Greece's creditors, in front of the Greek parliament building in AthensAngelos Tzortzinis/AFP
Greece pension and tax reforms
Protesters silhouette behind a banner bearing slogans against the pension reforms during a protest rally against the latest reform measures demanded by Greece's creditors in front of the Greek parliament building, AthensLouisa Gouliamaki/AFP
Greece pension and tax reforms
Police face protesters throwing flares and molotov coctails during a protest rally against the latest reform measures demanded by Greece's creditors, in front of the Greek parliament building, in AthensLouisa Gouliamaki/AFP
Greece pension and tax reforms
A man reads an announcement in front of graffito that reads 'I'm hungry' at a closed urban railway station in Athens during a 48-hours public transport strikeLouisa Gouliamaki/AFP
Greece pension and tax reforms
Protestors throw chairs at police during clashes in AthensMilos Bicanski/Getty
Greece pension and tax reforms
Supporters of Communist-affiliated trade union PAME shout slogans in an demonstration against reform package in AthensAneglos Tzortzinis/AFP
Greece pension and tax reforms
A commuter reads a notice at the closed entrance of the central Syntagma square Metro station during a 48-hour general strike against tax and pension reforms in Athens, GreeceAlkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

Alexis Tsipras' government was re-elected in September on promises to ease the pain of austerity for the poor and to protect pensions after he was forced to sign up to a new bailout in July to keep the country in the eurozone.

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos defended the reforms, saying that lower pension replacement rates would affect the rich and not the poor. "Our word is a contract. We have done what we promised and hence the IMF and Germany must provide a solution that is feasible, a solution for the debt that will open a clear horizon for investors," Tsakalotos told the lawmakers.

Greece pension and tax reforms
A protester argues with a Greek policeman during a protest rally against the latest reform measures demanded by Greece's creditors, in front of the Greek parliament building, AthensLouisa Gouliamaki/AFP
Greece pension and tax reforms
Protesters hold up banners as others clash with Greek riot police during a demonstration against the latest reform measures demanded by Greece's creditors in AthensAngelos Tzortzinis/AFP
Greece pension and tax reforms
Greek police stand guard the streets amid petrol bombs thrown by protesters during in an demonstration against reform package in AthensLouisa Gouliamaki/AFP
Greece pension and tax reforms
Protesters try to escape tear gas during clashes in AthensMilos Bicanski/Getty
Greece pension and tax reforms
A petrol bomb explodes in front of policemen during clashes in AthensMilos Bicanski/Getty
Greece pension and tax reforms
Greek police chase protesters as molotov cocktails are thrown during a protest rally against the latest reform measures demanded by Greece's creditors in front of the Greek parliament building, AthensLouisa Gouliamaki/AFP
Greece pension and tax reforms
Greek police stand guard amid molotov cocktails thrown by protesters during in an demonstration against reform package in AthensAngelos Tzortzinis/AFP
Greece pension and tax reforms
A Greek national flag flutters atop the Athens University, GreeceAlkis Konstantinidis/Reuters