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No Wonder Greeks Protest and Launch Strikes…

Quite a number of foreigners -including media and some EU officials – seem to be unable to understand why Greeks lay down their work, go to the streets and protest. Caught in a series of never ending austerity measures that do not give them space to breath, trapped in a bureaucratic state that sends them from one institution to the next forth and back, and hemmed in laws written often offhand, Greeks see no other way to oppose injustices than the way of protest.

One issue that gets down to their knees thousands of Greeks are the wages cuts in the public sector. After the members of Greek Police and state hospital doctors, it’s the turn of IKA employees at the biggest insurance fund of the country to see their wages going dramatically down and thus just before the Christmas season.

The wages cuts go in effect in November but they include retroactive cuts as of 1.1.11. The original plan that the cuts will be deducted in four installments has been cancelled and so IKA employees will get hardly some euros in the hand. An employee with €1,200 monthly wages, will get just €500, and another with €1,000 wages will be happy to receive just €380!

A friend of mine, a doctor at a state hospital, was shocked to receive ZERO-EURO in November and a notice, that he still ‘owes’ the state 100 EUR. 

Wages cuts are good, but leaving people without a months income is terribly bad.

No wonder Greeks feel the urgent need to protest. Don’t you think?

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  1. No wonder Greeks feel the urgent need to protest. Don’t you think?

    No, no wonder at all. It is just that most of those protests are just going through the passes it seems. Walking through Athens, shout at the Parliament building on Syntagma and then off for a coffee. Nobody cared for the last 20 years and nobody cares now. Or people protesting at the local DEH-office. Or hanging for the umpteenth time a banner from the Acropolis. Big deal. After two years most protests are still totally non-directional and ineffective.
    They should go to the local offices of the political parties and cut their power. Just an example. Yes, the hassling of politicians in function (never at their home!!!) is also very directional. Find new ways. Yes, the October 28th demo’s were a shock because it never had happened before. Creativity is what Greeks are famous for. How else would they have survived the Byzantine bureaucracy for so long? So use it!
    Don’t throw yoghurt at a politician who is enjoying a voluptuous meal: Take pictures and publish them widely. Photograph their cars, their boats, their second, third (or in Pangalos’s case his 50th) home. Name and shame them. And not only politicians, but Unionists, civil servants and the oligarchs too.
    It is now clear to everybody outside Greece who the real culprits are. So the people should start taking advantage of that. Make clear what the wealth and lifestyle of those who say to represent us, really is.
    Just one idea. But there must be much more creative ones. Let’s hear them.

  2. I think that a lot of restructure is required in Greece. From many I have heard (including journalists living in Greece) that the government bureaucracy structure was ridiculous and unsustainable.
    One journalist living in Greece wrote about picking up a parcel at customs, and three people worked there: one to stamp her paper, another to pick up her parcel (and give to her) and one person sitting down and doing nothing. Surely this type of bureaucracy is pointless.
    It’s due to these sorts of overpaid jobs (some people working for municipal councils weren’t working full time, yet were paid full time wages) that important occupations, like those in the medical area (doctors, etc), are compromised.
    So in some ways, I do think Greeks protest a little too much, especially if a percentage were being paid for doing nothing, and those Greeks that do have a right for pay, doctors, nurses, police, do deserve the pay for the jobs.

    • The “administrative inadequacies” is depriving the worst of people, the homeless, of food. Read this article called “Homeless deprived of EU funds” and get angry.

      The Romanian commissioner indicated that the Greek Agriculture and Food Ministry’s indifference was to blame for the fact that only 10.5 million euros out of a total of 20 million in cash destined for food programs was actually used.

      If this is true, that whole ministry’s top, including it’s political leaders, should be thrown in jail, IMHO.

    • AK:

      Unless you live here. I would warn against generalizing. Using an example of an overpaid person in a bureaucratic office does not justify undemocratic/unaccountable officials condemning those who did not work in that office (of your example) to poverty.

      As I live here, I can probably choose and pick better examples of the corrupt bureaucratic state than you can. But it is the injustice of using such examples (which is in a way racist) to enforce harsh, unfair measures (by the same state) on the innocent that I will not stay silent on.

      Am I to tell my child that she deserves this EU hostility because she has committed the ‘sin’ of being born here (in Greece). I am not Greek, so don’t use more examples of people I have never met to further the justification of the removal of her future.

      Austerity and restructuring are not the same thing. It is more than pointless; it as a disastrous. You may disagree with me, but I do not have the democratic right to vote on this. Why shouldn’t I protest against (and not submit to) a technical regime whose expertise doesn’t extend beyond the field of Banking. I don’t want to and refuse to live under an economy run by ‘Conan the barbarian accountant’.

      So I will be protesting a lot more. And it makes little difference to me how many persons were sitting in that post office doing nothing in your example – its no longer a moral question but one of survival. So in some ways, I do think Greeks protest a little too LITTLE

  3. As one Greek lady said, when interviewed recently by BBC World News,
    “How can we live on Bulgarian wages when we have London and Paris prices
    in the shops”