Farmers from across Greece have begun gathering in Athens for a two-day protest against the government and its plans to impose new tax hikes and pension charges.

Protesters from the island of Crete arrived by ferry early Friday and were blocked by police from entering the Agriculture Ministry in central Athens.

Bailout lenders are demanding that Greece scrap tax breaks for farmers and impose pension reforms that will lead to higher monthly contributions from the self-employed and salaried employees.

Farming associations have been staging highway blockades for more than two weeks against a planned overhaul of the country's troubled pension system