Queues stretched down the street outside Athens banks on Thursday, as pensioners waited to collect their Christmas bonus payments from the government.
Greek MPs approved the one-off payment, which is for the lowest-earning pensioners – in defiance of the European creditors providing Greece with bailout funding.
In a long line outside one bank, pensioner Skouras Konstandinos said: “It’s a bonus that will help low income pensioners to do some shopping for the holidays, for Christmas – to give something to their grandchildren. In any case, whatever they (the government) give is good.”
“What help can it be to me when they cut half of my pension, and now they give the bonus?” said another pensioner, Despine. “This is pure mockery. We do not accept this, but what can we do? We will take it and it’s the last one, it’s over.”
Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras insists that the pensioners’ payment does not breach the terms of the bailout.
Yet, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) pulled out of a short term debt relief deal after Athens went ahead with pension payment.
Tsipras has been calling on the country’s creditors look inwards before they criticise.
“We are waiting for you to reach an understanding,” he said in a speech earlier this week, addressing the creditors. “But at the same time, don’t ask for things you know cannot be done in an economy carrying the wounds created by your own mistakes.”