Greece on Wednesday passed a divisive bill that will eliminate thousands of public-sector jobs but help the debt-strapped nation qualify for billions in bailout money from international lenders.
Earlier Wednesday, thousands of people had gathered outside parliament in protest. But the bill passed in a late-night vote, with 153 of the 293 lawmakers present voting in favor of the unpopular measure, according to Reuters.
The good news for the Greeks is that the bill paves the way for the next instalment of loans from their troika of funders, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission. The bad news is that 25,000 public-sector employees, most of them teachers or police officers, will lose their jobs, according to Deutsche Welle.
There has been fierce resistance to the bill, with protests taking place daily for the past week.
"After 12 years on the job, they fire us in one night," 52-year-old school guard Patra Hatziharalampous told Reuters. "If they have any guts, they should say no to the bailout and take some of the bill's articles back," she added.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who addressed the nation right before the vote, promised that "[b]etter days will come for our people," reported Al Jazeera. "We will not let up," he said. "We will climb uphill and reach the end, which is not far."
The legislation also includes a "mobility reserve program" allowing the government to transfer and possibly fire other civil servants, a provision likely tied to a promise to lay off a further 15,000 people by the end of next year, said Deutsche Welle.
Unemployment in Greece is at 27 percent.