Dropped into the middle of a story on the IMF's plan for Greece (I won't call it a bailout, it's basically a wholesale takeover of a sovereign democratic state) is this charming little nugget: part of the price Greece must pay is an end to collective bargaining for Greek workers.
At first I thought, maybe this would just apply to the public sector? Not that this would be OK... But while this does appear to be the primary target, the ban on unions imposing wage and conditions agreements would be across the board. This proposal has people up in arms, as you might well imagine.
Greece has already cut salaries--the average worker has already lost 30 percent of his or her takehome pay. Let that sink in... could you get by with a cut of 30 percent, or even 20 percent? Further pay cuts are part of the IMF plan. And you wouldn't be able to fight back through your union.
What's more, many jobs will simply be eliminated. The IMF wants to close down part of the Greek railway system, for example--it's a "money losing" public service. Other Greek industries will have to open up to competition, incuding trucking. Transport is one of the few industries where Greece is strong. Up to 3000 government departments and agencies are being shuttered. Many other jobs will be casualised or made part-time (which has historically been difficult in Greece).
VAT (sales tax) is to be jacked up to 21 percent, or 5 percent on certain products like food. Income tax is also rising on workers' pay.
Oh yeah, and there will be no increase in corporate taxes. And no curbs on the speculators who have ramped up this problem to crisis proportions.
Another little tidbit is that the falsified figures Greece gave the EU when it joined, were falsified to hide military spending, not the domestic programmes on the chopping board now. There's not a word in the IMF plan, as far as I can tell, about cutting the military's budget. Quite possibly because if things go on as they are now, they may end up using some of that hardware at home.
So when you see more and more scenes on the news of Greek people losing their cool, you'll understand that it isn't just about higher retirement ages or cuts to "bonuses." It's about survival in a Western nation where the prices are just as high as they are anywhere else, but already lower than average European salaries are about to become much lower.