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Greece

The Troika letter strangling Greece

FROM THE RADICAL PRESS / IL MANIFESTO 

The Troika is demanding two huge privatisations immediately, massive sackings in the public sector, enormous employment ‘flexibility’ in the private sector, a new cut to pensions and wages and another mountain of money for the banks

‘Earth and Water’, as in antiquity, was the demand of the Troika (IMF-ECB-European Union) yesterday, in exchange for a giant loan to the ‘technical’ government of Lucas Papadimos, while negations continue with private creditors for a cut to the Greek government bonds.

In 12 dense pages the Troika has proposed tough conditions on Greece in order to release the second loan (Euros 130 billion) in what appears to be a clear warning to other Eurozone PIGS,  like Portugal and Ireland, who also await a second loan,  or others, who have problems financing their debts, like Spain, Italy and eventually Belgium.

The Troika, removing all decision-making from the Greek state, want two huge privatisations quickly, massive sackings in the public sector, enormous employment ‘flexibility’ in the private sector, a new cut to pensions and wages and another mountain of money for the banks.

The banking system will be saved with loans that the next generation of Greeks will pay, while the government will in exchange receive shares without any voting rights or control over the bankers.

The Troika’s only ‘concession’  is the reduction in the deficit for 2012 (by 1%) with spending cuts, rather than tax rises: the black hole of Euros 2 billion in 2011 will be covered by cuts in spending on pharmaceuticals and defence.

The EU, ECB and IMF specifically demand 150,000 job cuts or early retirements in the public sector by 2015, new cuts to pensions and wages…the abolition of the collective bargaining and instead individual contracts or at least [contracts reached through] company level agreements, cuts to  the minimum wage, sectoral collective employment agreements in the banks, and public or para-state sector.

They want higher taxes on home owners…

They want the maximum wage flexibility, the reduction in employer contributions, the complete deregulation of road transport, the chemists and legal profession.

Part of the Troika’s blackmail is the demand to ‘neutralise’ political control over tax and customs, with the creation of a special secretariat, and to combat corruption, it wants the top brass in the tax authorities to change every two years as well as powers to remove them if they fail to meet targets.

Naturally the new, extremely burdensome memorandum must be signed by the leaders of the three parties (the socialist Pasok, centre-right Nea Dimocratia and extreme right Laos) that support the Papadimos National Coalition government. A ‘signature’, in order to ensure loans. that has become customary also for Greece, following the example of the government parties in Ireland and Portugal.

The premier is in a hurry to conclude the deal with private creditors for the cut in the debt  and the discussions to release the second loan, which he hopes to achieve by a massacre of workers’ rights. Also in a hurry are Angela Merkel, the European Union and and the IMF given that Portugal and Ireland await with anxiety to share the same sad fate as Greece.

It is likely that the population, after two years of wasted sacrifice, will become yet angrier and indignant and this will produce a new wave of protests.

It was enough to see the atmosphere n Athens. Thousands of citizens in a queue, last Wednesday, to grab some of the 25 tonnes of potatoes freely provided by the farmers of Boiotia-Thiva in Syntagma square. Thousands of health workers who have besieged the ministry to protest against cuts and the chaos in  the public health system. An angry and sad crowd that accompanied the director Theo Angelopoulos  on his last journey.

ARGIRIS PANAGOPOULOS

28.01.2012

Il Manifesto (paywall)

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or email revolting.europe@gmail.com

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