It came as expected. Employees affected by the upcoming wages cuts included in the 11.5-billion-euro package took to the streets. Policemen, firefighters, coastal guards, judges, academics, teachers, doctors, tax officers. Greece’s public sector is boiling. Civil servants protest and strike and threaten with escalation of their mobilization.
Sept 6/2012 – Athens: Riot police against protesting policemen
Pensioners and chronic-ill protest because they have to pay prescription medicine by their own pockets and also pay for visits to doctors. The state is unable to pay out debts to pharmacists and private doctors assigned with the national health care organisation.
Hikes in taxes, unjust emergency taxes go hand in hand with income decreases and crack down the backbone of the Greek employees.
Pensioners and chronic-ill protest because they are forced to pay prescription medicine by their own pockets and also pay for visits to doctors.
Sept 6/2012 – Thessaloniki: Pensionsers protest outside EOPYY
The private sector does not feel any better either. Employees see their salaries plunge by 8% or even by 25%. The brother of a friend, 37 years old, father of two, wife jobless. He used to work for 1,000 euro per month. However in September, he was informed, his salary went down to just 750 euro.
Recently a friend put an ad looking for a cleaning lady incl laundry and ironing: 5 euro per hour, once a week, four hours. 80 euro per month. 120 women applied for the job within four days. Half of them were Greeks, the other half foreigners.
Wages plunge, prices for consumer goods, services and utilities remain high. Sometimes they even go up. Or remain the ‘virtually’ the same, while the product packages have decreased.
Greek Caricature: Wages/Pensions
Wages plunge. From one month to the next. Without previous notice; not that this would make a big difference. And yet, employees are told, “they should feel lucky, to still have a job.”
Unemployment broke a new record reaching 24.4% in June 2012, while among youth the rate is especially dramatic: 55%.
Private vs Public Sector
No wonder, suspicion and envy and little understanding for the demands of several interest groups are making themselves bright among the Greek society: Private sector against public sector, civil servants against civil servants, jobless against people with work. Even if they’re not paid on time.
A friend, 54, gets incredible angry every time, she hears about wages in public administration. “What? They get 2,500 euro per month and they still complain?” Her salary is 1,000 euro per month, her husband has not been paid for several months. They have two teenager kids.
The pension of a friend’s father was cut down to 850 euro per month from 1,300. The father was state hospital doctor. The old man regrets not to have joined the club of those receiving ‘fakelaki’ [black money] and have made a “tax-free” fortunate all these years.
Another friend told me yesterday in an e-mail about his experience with his neighbor, working at a public school.
“She is taking care of her mother. Getting by on an income by cleaning the local schools and her mothers pension. Yes she is struggling too. And stuck. She doesn’t show it. At least until she talks about the holidays of the teachers and the prospect of them going on strike… Then you suddenly see the flickering or hate about, what see feels as utter luxury of those teachers compared to her life. That ‘hate’ is new. I guess it is getting more and more clear to an awful lot of people how others are managing to being relatively well off at the expense of them. And that this has nothing to do with any Troika.”
Not to mention the anger of civil servants when they hear that other civil servants earn more or still enjoy privileges.
Public Services Collapse
Services in public administration and state-run enterprises are collapsing: shortage of personnel, indiferrent public servants knowing they maybe sent to labor reserve.
State registers resemble Swiss Ementaler cheese: with lots of holes in revenues. Tax evasion became the national hobby of private enterprises and self-employed.
More or less the same is the situation in the registers of insurance and pension funds. More than 1,2 million jobless. No employee’s contributions. Employers in payments delays.
Social welfare in collapse. Benefits only for 100% poor.
Health Care Sector
The health care is going from bad to worse: at least 6 weeks waiting time for a doctor appointment with Greece’s biggest insurance fund IKA. Sometimes you go there, but the doctor is on leave. Then you have to make a new appointment and wait another 6 weeks. Russian roulette with the bulet going through the Greek patient.
The situation in state hospitals is not much better. For insured and uninsured patients alike.
I hear from cases, where patients need to bring their own pillows, bedsheets, toilet papers, cotton, medicine.
I know from cases, where doctors give appointments in the afternoon, charging 75 euro per visit.
A mother without insurance had to pay 200 euro in order to get her new born baby out from the clinic. The money was borrowed from neighbors.
All this happens before the additional austerity measures are announced and come to effect.
Government Saves The Country…
A state mechanism unable to get the situation under control: Combat tax evasion, exterminate corruption. Can they bring half of the population into prison?
A government unable to take care of the society. A government trying to save the country, Greece, by “killing” the country’s citizens, the Greeks.
People are cracked. And they are boiling inside. But not more as “deep inside” as in the past. Anger slowly perforates the filters that make a society functioning.
One does not need to be an expert so see, the depressive mood of the society during the last two years is mutated into anger. I’m afraid the social unrest is nearer than thought to be. It needs just a spark. Which I don’t know what it could be…
See more detailed reporting in category KTG/Society