Protests in Greece for 2nd day ahead of major austerity vote

Members of the communist-affiliated PAME union demonstrating in Athens this morning Thanassis Stavrakis  AP

Members of the communist-affiliated PAME union demonstrating in Athens this morning Thanassis Stavrakis AP

Since then a number of worldwide lenders, including the EU institutions and the global Monetary Fund, agreed to provide Athens with several bailout packages in exchange for large-scale economic reforms, mainly entailing sweeping austerity measures that have been bitterly opposed by the country's unions.

Left-wing prime minister Alexis Tsipras is seeking parliamentary approval for pension cuts and tax hikes through 2020, as part of an agreement with worldwide bailout creditors to continue vital loan payouts.

"It's their (the lenders) turn to fulfill their commitments, just like we did", Tsipras told reporters at parliament.

Last week, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Greece is "closer than ever" to reaching a deal on debt relief.

Ahead of next week's eurozone ministerial gathering in Brussels, the Greek parliament on Thursday will vote on the latest set of reform measures that will clear the way for the conclusion of the creditors' "second review" of the bailout package.

Masked youths broke away from an otherwise peaceful crowd and threw petrol bombs at riot police, who responded with tear gas.

Lenders have agreed in principle to debt restructuring but not on details.

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But it will also accelerate negotiations on easing Greece's debt repayment terms, which Athens hopes could be concluded as early as next week at a meeting of European finance ministers.

Athens needs aid to repay debt maturing in July.

Thursday's budget package included 5.4 billion euros ($6 billion) of stimulus measures for 2019 and 2020 to offset the pension cuts and tax hikes demanded by creditors.

They have likened the new reforms to those of a fourth bailout. It will be implemented only if Greece meets its fiscal targets.

He accused the opposition of constantly warning of a catastrophe that "hasn't come".

"Our country is being turned into an austerity colony", leading opposition conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during debate on the bill, describing added cuts as a "nightmare" for low-earners.

The government is confident that creditors will grant them further debt relief, with debts now at 179 per cent of Greece's gross domestic product (GDP), a level the International Monetary Fund (IMF) calls unsustainable. The IMF has been reluctant to join Greece's current bailout, saying it wants assurances that its debt will be sustainable.

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