Vasia Veremi may be only 28, but as a hairdresser in Athens, she is keenly aware that, under a current law that treats her job as hazardous to her health, she has the right to retire with a full pension at age 50. ...
[T]he Greek government has identified at least 580 job categories that are deemed to be hazardous enough to merit retiring early — at age 50 for women and 55 for men.
The law includes some predictably dangerous jobs like coal mining and bomb disposal. But it also covers positions like radio and television presenters who are thought to be at risk from the bacteria on their microphones and musicians playing wind instruments who must contend with gastric reflux as they puff and blow.
As a consequence of decades of bargains struck between strong unions and weak governments, Greece has promised early retirement to about 700,000 employees, or 14 percent of its work force, giving it one the lowest average retirement ages in Europe at 61.
--Landon Thomas Jr., NYT, on why the Greek economy is at the abyss