Greek purchasing power in freefall

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Severe wage cuts have halved the purchasing power of Greeks over the last three years, according to the results of a union study published Friday in the Athens daily Ta Nea.

In 2012, the monthly minimum wage was cut from 751 euros (940 dollars) to 586 euros - giving those earners the purchasing power of a Greek citizen in 1978.

The results come from a study by the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), the country's largest labour union.

The union predicts that the average yearly income of Greeks - 25,740 euros in 2011 - will fall further to between 15,000 and 17,000 euros.

According to the study, the situation of pensioners is particularly worrying. Between 2010 and June 2012, pension were slashed by 4.2 billion euros.

Talks are underway between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition partners on Greece's new austerity programme, which could include further cuts to wages and pensions.

The near-bankrupt country must find 11.5 billion euros worth of savings in order to qualify for fresh bailout funds from its international creditors. - Sapa-dpa

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