[Marxism] Greek public workers

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Apr 29 08:19:23 MDT 2013

At the SYRIZA panel discussion on Saturday at the HM conference, Peter 
Bratsis bemoaned the fact that 20 general strikes have done nothing to 
stop austerity. It was pointed out to him, by Costas I believe, that 
these are not really general strikes since workers in private industry 
do not take part because of a fear of reprisal. Public workers, who have 
a relative degree of job protection, make up the bulk of the actions. 
But he warned that this is about to change, referring to proposed 
legislation that just passed:

NY Times April 28, 2013
Greek Parliament Passes Plan for Layoffs

ATHENS — Greece’s Parliament late Sunday approved a contentious plan to 
dismiss 15,000 civil servants by the end of next year as part of a new 
package of economic measures that the country must enforce to clinch 
crucial financing from foreign creditors.

Euro zone officials meeting in Brussels on Monday are expected to 
approve the release of about 2.8 billion euros, or about $3.65 billion, 
in loans. The money had been due in March but was delayed after 
negotiations between Greece and the so-called troika of its foreign 
lenders stalled over the lenders’ demands for civil service cuts.

The troika, which comprises the European Commission, the European 
Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, has been meting out 
aid in exchange for belt-tightening measures. They are to decide on 
another six-billion-euro installment in May, assuming Greece adopts 
further reforms, including an overhaul of a tax collection system.

The latest measures passed into law in a vote held shortly before 
midnight on Sunday with 168 votes in the 300-seat House.

A last-minute amendment allowing local authorities to hire young Greeks 
for less than the minimum wage of 586 euros per month fueled protests 
during the debate. But the inclusion of measures aimed at easing the 
burden on Greeks, including a 15 percent reduction to a contentious 
property tax, clinched the support of lawmakers in the three-party 
ruling coalition.

Defending the bill during a heated debate, Finance Minister Yannis 
Stournaras insisted that Greece had no choice but to implement the 
economic reforms. “Greece is still cut off from the markets,” he said, 
noting that the government’s chief aim was to achieve a primary surplus 
before seeking a further “drastic haircut” to its debt, which stood at 
160 percent of gross domestic product at the end of last year.

His claims were derided by political rivals who denounced the lawmakers 
as beholden to the nation’s lenders. “With blood, tears and looting, 
they will achieve surpluses like those achieved by Ceausescu in Romania 
and Pinochet in Chile,” said Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the main 
leftist opposition party Syriza. “Claim back your lives and your country 
that they are stealing,” he said as a few hundred Greeks, mostly civil 
servants, staged a rather low-key protest outside Parliament.

Mr. Tsipras, whose party wants to revoke Greece’s loan agreement, has 
insisted that Greeks have an alternative to constant belt-tightening, 
pointing to a strong reaction against austerity across Europe.

The ruling coalition, led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, faces a 
difficult balancing act to reassure its foreign creditors and its 
long-suffering citizens, who have seen their incomes dwindle by a third 
and Greek unemployment skyrocket to 27 percent in the past three years.

Eager to bolster the prospects for investment, the prime minister is 
also said to be planning a series of international trips, starting with 
a visit to China next month.

He is expected to meet with entrepreneurs and promote Greece as a 
destination for tourism, virtually the only robust pillar of Greece’s 
shaky economy.

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