[Marxism] FT: Greek cleaners swept out of work as Tsipras’s defiance fades

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jul 17 07:12:08 MDT 2015

On 7/17/15 8:59 AM, Shalva Eliava via Marxism wrote:
> Very sad...
> http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/0115f5ea-2af2-11e5-8613-e7aedbb7bdb7.html

July 15, 2015 5:49 pm
Greek cleaners swept out of work as Tsipras’s defiance fades
Henry Foy in Athens

For Vagelis Alexiou, the socialist revolution led by Alexis Tsipras 
lasted just 12 wonderful days.

Turfed out of his job as a cleaner in Greece’s ministry of finance two 
and a half years ago by a cost-cutting government following orders from 
the country’s creditors, Mr Alexiou was reinstated on July 1 by a decree 
passed by Mr Tsipras’s ruling leftwing Syriza party.

But the Greek prime minister’s defiance, and Mr Alexiou’s wish to return 
to his job mopping the floors of the ministry, ended on Monday as Athens 
capitulated to creditors’ demands for further austerity and economic 
reform in exchange for a desperately needed €86bn bailout.
“I wish Mr Tsipras had said no to Brussels,” said Mr Alexiou, sitting 
outside the ministry in central Athens, his hope of being rehired now in 
tatters. “I hope we can still trust him. He wants to help the workers, 
the poor people . . . but the creditors will not let him.”
Swept to power in January by Greeks tired and angry after five years of 
punishing austerity, Mr Tsipras promised an end to cost-cutting and the 
legislative oversight from the EU, ECB and IMF, together with a repeal 
of measures taken by previous governments that slashed public sector 
jobs and wages.

Those hopes ended in the early hours of Monday morning after 17 hours of 
bruising negotiations in Brussels, when Greece’s prime minister agreed 
to the most intrusive reform and austerity programme ever demanded by 
the EU in exchange for cash to keep his county from going bankrupt and 
exiting the eurozone.

Mr Tsipras will on Wednesday evening seek parliamentary approval for the 
exacting terms required for the international bailout, despite fierce 
opposition from more than half of Syriza’s central committee — who have 
signed a letter decrying the deal as a “coup”.

Yanis Varoufakis, Mr Tsipras’s former finance minister, said it was akin 
to “a new Versailles Treaty”, a reference to the onerous settlement 
imposed on Germany after its defeat in first world war, while Panagiotis 
Lafazanis, Greece’s energy minister, said it was “unworthy of being 
credited to a radical party like Syriza”.

The sacked Mr Alexiou, 34, was just one of thousands of former public 
sector employees who had put their faith in Syriza to get them back to work.

Lena Economou, a former president of a trade union that represents 
public sector cleaners, spent months camped outside the ministry 
demanding they be reinstated — even sleeping in a tent on the pavement 
some nights.

“Syriza supported us a huge amount. They lobbied for us in parliament 
even before they were in power,” she said.

Her fight looked to have paid off when the government on July 1 agreed 
to give 200 government cleaners she represents their jobs back, at least 
until the end of the year.

But the new measures have ripped up that decision. “[The deal] is very, 
very bad . . . We have been thrown to the garbage,” she said. “We feel 
like we are the lowest category of people in Greece.”
Under pressure from its creditors, Greece between 2010-14 cut 280,000 
public sector jobs and slashed salaries, reducing the total headcount by 
about 30 per cent and the wage bill to €15.8bn from more than €25bn 

Most of the job losses were those on fixed-term contracts, such as 
cleaners and administrative staff. Their positions were often taken by 
people hired through outsourcing companies or third-party employers.
Sitting in front of a large banner comparing their treatment to the 
crucifixion of Jesus, Mr Alexiou and Ms Economou voted No in last week’s 
referendum on whether to accept a more lenient austerity package 
proposed by creditors.

That position was supported by 62 per cent of Greeks, including the tens 
of thousands who took to central Athens that evening to celebrate their 
rebellion against EU leaders who are despised by average Greeks.
But despite Mr Tsipras’s apparent volte-face, with his acceptance of a 
tougher deal, the prime minister retains the support of the majority of 
Greeks, many of whom are more afraid of losing the euro than they are of 
further austerity.

“We hope Syriza will look after us,” said Ms Economou, clutching the 
crucifix that hangs around her neck. “As long as I live, I hope.”

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