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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.

Originally posted to expatyank on Fri Apr 30, 2010 at 12:23 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (16+ / 0-)

    Political Compass says: -8.88, -8.67
    "We never sold out cos no one would buy."--J Neo Marvin

    by expatyank on Fri Apr 30, 2010 at 12:23:32 PM PDT

  •  Please add details (7+ / 0-)

    if you know more than I do. Where are the unions worldwide on this? There have been statements of solidarity from some unions in Europe, but if ever there was a cause for real solidarity--i.e., general strike--this is it.
    And of course the speculators aren't done: next up Spain, Portugal, Ireland and why not the UK too, our budget deficit is almost as high...

    Political Compass says: -8.88, -8.67
    "We never sold out cos no one would buy."--J Neo Marvin

    by expatyank on Fri Apr 30, 2010 at 12:26:10 PM PDT

  •  I Want to See (0+ / 0-)

    1/3 of Greeks starving by 2011.

    "Simon Wiesenthal told me that any political party in a democracy that uses the word 'freedom' in its name is either Nazi or Communist."

    by bink on Fri Apr 30, 2010 at 12:26:30 PM PDT

  •  F*** the IMF! (8+ / 0-)

    The IMF can go to HE**!!!  That is complete BS that the IMF wants to end collective bargaining for Greek workers.  It's not right!  The unions aren't the problem, and they can be part of the solution.  The Greeks should tell the IMF where they can shove their "plan".

  •  It's a classic IMF neoliberal raid (8+ / 0-)

    on social safety nets. They have been doing it to third world countries for years. Now thanks to the dithering of the leaders of the EU they are being allowed to march into Europe. It is a financial Munich.

  •  Greek Voters (6+ / 0-)

    Should take a clue from Iceland and just say no.

    "Simon Wiesenthal told me that any political party in a democracy that uses the word 'freedom' in its name is either Nazi or Communist."

    by bink on Fri Apr 30, 2010 at 12:40:26 PM PDT

  •  The policy makers make the mistakes (5+ / 0-)

    and the working stiffs take the damage.
    This will cause civil unrest.

    •  the civil unrest level in Greece (6+ / 0-)

      is extremely serious right now, as in a real code red. I may be able to say more tomorrow--I'm attending a meeting with some folks who are in a better position to know.

      But it has gone well beyond the black bloc or small anarchist groups now, to the extent that mainstream working stiffs are ready to break some windows. The anarchists have escalated to insurrectionary tactics--there have been a number of firebombings and actual bombings in recent months. There have also been quite a few arrests, and at least two killings of activists in odd situations that make it look very much like there is one or more death squads operating within the Greek security apparatus.

      There was also a firebombing of a Greek target in London (which didn't get reported in the mainstream UK press, BTW).

      This could get very ugly--except that I think this is already very ugly.

      Political Compass says: -8.88, -8.67
      "We never sold out cos no one would buy."--J Neo Marvin

      by expatyank on Fri Apr 30, 2010 at 01:37:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If they're willing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        to get ugly, then, they have to also start THINKING and getting ugly strategically.  I'm not making any suggestions, not knowing the situation from over here, but if they actually are fighting mad and you're talking to people, remind them that all the fight in the world still has to be organized and targeted to succeed.  Serious resistance requires planning and deliberate action; that's how the unions originally won their current privileges.

        And if the Greek government needs to raise some additional tax money to balance the books, I can't think of a better target, than speculative financial transactions and brokerage businesses.  Make 'em pay to play.

  •  The lie about Greek's botching statistics (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and lying was necessary, so that people would avoid asking German and French banks, "Why did you lend them all that money?"

    By answering, "They lied, we didn't know," the EU leaders can avoid the sordid details of pan-European corruption and bank bailouts.

    The old Greek FM from the 1990s gave a talk at his alma mater, The London School of Economics yesterday, where he said, "No one will believe what I'm saying because the story has been reported ad nauseum, but Greek statistics were verified, actual and true at the end of each year. We failed to do better with predictions."

    An uproarious laugh arose from the audience when he said this.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Fri Apr 30, 2010 at 03:49:04 PM PDT

  •  Ah. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    expatyank, Dirtandiron, DRo
    Thank you, so finally the REAL target becomes clear.  Not just the "bloated public sector" and public-service jobs, but a first stab at breaking unionization in Europe generally, beginning with the imposition of IMF's standard third-world beggary conditions for the first time in Europe.  I had been wondering, what the real purpose was behind the disproportionate furor being raised by "the markets" in a situation that isn't as bad as some nations that aren't being squeezed, nor as bad as Greece's own finances have been, and not been hit by this kind of full-court press (and Press).

    So the Lords Of The Universe, the Money Men, the Bankers, straight off of collapsing the entire world economy and then some, figure their next move in liquidating everything owned or operated by somebody other than themselves, is to hit the unions in their bastion of strength.  Hmmmm.  Dear me, I DO hope the Greeks take to the streets and burn a few of them alive.

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