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Greece’s Private Sector Union GSEE Calls The Troika “Charlatans and Quacks”

The atmosphere during the meeting between private sector union umbrella GSEE and Troika representatives on Friday was chilly. In fact, it must have been icy-cold despite the high temperatures in Greece’s capital Athens when the issues of dramatically high unemployment, prolonged recession, cancellation of collective bargains and the miserable conditions in the Greek labour market came on the table. “We agreed on one thing: that we disagree in everything, ” President of GSEE Yiannis Panagopoulos told Greek media after the meeting and described Greece’s lenders’ representatives as “charlatans and quacks”.

“Their program has destroyed us, pushed Greek economy into recession, it has created huge problems to the Greek society,  above all the surging of unemployment. They came as doctors to give us medicine, but it proved they were charlatans and quacks who gave fake remedy.”

Panagopoulos complained about the Troika’s failure to give answers to GSEE’s questions and critisized “if they [Troika representatives]were civil servants and they would be evaluated, it is certain that they would have been fired.”

GSEE president said that there was no point for a dialogue between the social partners, the employees and the government, when it is clear that a further decrease of the minimum wages are in the background. 

IMF’s representative Poul Thomsen reportedly told GSEE, that the Troika did not discuss with the government the wages issue and he admitted, that they had missed the targets of tax revenues. ” You did not have better results in reducing the prices of goods and services,” Panagopoulos reminded.

Panagopoulos said that the GSEE would not participate in the social-partners dialogue, unless minimum wages have been restored.

The second bailout signed between Greece’s and the Troika last February/March decreased the minimum wage by 22% and by 32% for work-starters, i.e. young employees below 25 years old.

Minimum wage dropped from 750 euro down to 586 euro gross (489 net). Younger employees’ wage went down to 510 euro (440 net).

Respectively the unemployment allowance fell from 460 euro down to 359 euro.

In real life, things are even worse for the young employees though. Friends’ children report of monthly wages between €300-€400 without insurance for full-time jobs (10-12 hours) and hardly €150 for part-timers.

Not to mention the reports of employers who do not pay at all…




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  1. Economic public diversion
    The main point that we should all be noticing is that our Greek government got the country into this hole. And the pressure should be on them not from the IMF, WCB or ECB, but from the Greek citizens themselves, especially from the private citizens, who are struggling to make it through day by day.

    In regards to Germany, the German people are having their attention diverted from the main problems affecting Greece and the other EU members that are in an economic crisis. They have their media to thank for that, especially the news publications of Der Spiegel and Bild. Which are controlled by the elietest class in Germany, who are they? They are the politicians in the current government CDU and FDP (pro industrialist) and the industrialist who control and run the factories and companies such as Mercedes Benz, MAN, Triumph, Addidas, etc.

    They do this to divert the peoples attentions away from the real situation in Germany at present. This is because the wages for the private sector worker is low in comparison to other developed Western countries, such as France, Norway, Austria and Switzerland. The current CDU/FDP government in Germany have made it easier for the industrialists to hier and fire employees, the hier Azubis (apprentices) which make upto 30% to 50% of their employees for 3 years, paying them only 300 to 500 Euro per month, working in fulltime hours and working just as hard or even harder than the fulltimers. And once the 3 year contract is over they are let go without a guarantee of a position at the company and they hire new Azubis to take their place and the circle goes on and on. Saving the industrialist a lot of money. On top of that they also take on Mini Job employees who get paid a maximum 400 Euro per month at a rate of 5 to 11 Euro per hour. Again saving the industrialists money on employee entitlements such as medical insurance and holiday pay.

    And they the CDU/FDP want to push this to the other EU members.

    This is slavery and the Germans do not even know it.

    It is all a game of pointing the finger at other issues and problems to divert attention away from what is really going on in Germany and around the world.

    I know because i have live in Germany and in Greece.

    In Greece we can easily fix a lot of problems if we reduce our public sector number of employees from 1,000,000 to 80,000. And control public spending to politicians, public purchases should be tendered and controlled. And bribing and corruption minimised and eradicated. And the police can start installing more red light cameras and speed cameras, and issuing parking fines to collect more revenues for the state. And to retrieve monies from all politicians and public servants that took public monies illegaly.

    • Silberschwinge (Germany)

      I, as a german, disagree in some points.
      The main point you should get is, that your Greek government should get the country out of this hole.
      IMF, WCB or ECB will give you some conditions, upon upholding these conditions they will give Greece money so that Greece gets some years time to solve its problems.
      The final shape of the necessary reforms is up to your government.
      So please focus on getting your government to solve the problem.

      Don’t waste your time on the blame game, spare that up for later, when the crisis is solved and you have all time needed. (Except there is a possibility to get some money out of the person responsible. Then you should do it now.)
      And don’t waste to much energy on every harassment from the germans. They are afraid of loosing lots of money, if the greek government does not do its job. And they scream so much because they can actually do nothing more than screaming.

      So don’t waste too much time on germany. You may stop reading any further, because now coming are only some comments on the situation in germany.

      “Bild” is of course close to the CDU, controlled by the Springer Group. But “Der Spiegel” (Augstein) ist definitely more left and connected with the SPD (social democrats). The founder of the Spiegel was imprisioned more than 100 days in pre trial custody by a CDU/CSU government for high treason. You can imagine how likely it is that his journal supports the CDU.

      Concerning the wages, you are partly right. The wages are lower than that of Belgium, Swede, Danmark, France, Luxemburg and the Netherlands.
      But in Germany there was and still is a “no interference from the government” policy in action. The unions have agreed on keeping the wages low! Why that? Because for years the employers have given wo options to the unions. Either have higher wages, but then some factories will be dislocated to east europe or asia, or keep the lower wages and keep the jobs here. German unions decided for the latter. And most people in Germany see that wages are a big factor in success and competition, but not only in comparision to the EU members but also in comparision to emerging markets like Brasil or China.

      Concerning the apreenticeship or “Ausbildung” you are mostly wrong.
      CDU/FDP did almost nothing on job laws. They still benefit from the so called Hartz reforms of the late SPD government under cancellor Gerhard Schröder.
      The Azubis (short for AusZUBIldende) are paid something from
      less than 300 Euros (Hairdressers in east germany) to well above 800 €. See the table at the end of the text.
      But they are not 100% work slaves as you propose. The get an extensive education on their job, covering way more than only that needed in the factory. An overseeing institution (Industrie und Handelskammer) give also somwhat of a curriculum, a list of things that the apprentices must have sucessfully fulfilled before they are acknowledged as professional. They also spend 1-3 days of the week in school.
      And rates of 50% will you only get at companies consisting only of one master and one apprentice. Any larger firms (>50 employees) won’t get more than 10% of apprentices.
      True is indeed that after the apprenticeship they do not automaticly get employed. And indeed many companies do have more apprentices than they will need to cover their open job positions. But the former apprentices should then be qualified to take over an according job in any other company. That is the reason of the “Ausbildung”, to learn ALL the basics of your trade, and not only that tiny amount of knowledge that the company currently needs.
      The 400 Euro jobs are part time jobs, based on specific rules to ease he creation of those jobs. But they must only be part time.

      Does CDU and FDP want to push this over Europe? Yes, I think so. Why?
      Because it worked for us. We had after the reunification of germany in the 90’s also big troubles with unemployment. In some regions in east germany was the unemployment rate for many many years above 20%. And there where huge discussions, what would be best for those unemployed. Having them sitting at home, paid for by social aid? It turned out that most of them were rather unhappy with that living. Being sometimes called freeloaders or parasites.
      So we tried reforms to create not well paid jobs, to give them something to do, to get out of their homes and back into the social societey. A badly paid job is better than none. I do believe that most germans willingly and in full knowledge accepted these reforms.
      And I don’t think it is slavery. You still have your choices.

      Before the Hartz reforms, we had the system of social aid, which offered money without any requirements. It turned out that quite a bit of people gave up on work, and instead arranged with living only form the money of the social aid. It made our costs for the social aid bigger and bigger. At some point, it was too much, and the reforms began, which pushed and nuged the jobless to find a job. Any job.

      Coming back to your text, there is no gain in pointing fingers. There are problems to be solved. What goes on in Germany does not matter much, since it is only a small country in the world. What goes on in the world is that the western world still gets way to high wages in comparison to the rest of the world. But that changes. Wages in Europe will be on the decline, wages in the rest of the world are going up. China sees first clothing factories wander of due to “too high wages”, there are concerns that a housing bubble is going to bust in the china. Brasil does better than ever. Some areas in Africa are also booming. India does ok. The United States seems to have entered the decades long state of stagnation, that Japan faced since the 1990. That goes on in the world – the west goes down, the rest up.

      But your last paragraph on the problems in Greece, that is the spirit I was hoping for. Please do all that. And then we germans will stop moping around.

      Kind regards from germany, Silberschwinge.

      Wages for Apprentices
      1. year 2. year 3. year
      Officeclerk 705€ 767€ 845€
      Industrial clerk 753€ 802€ 868€
      Businessman in the wholesale trade 655€ 721€ 788€
      businessman in retail trade 620€ 694€ 797€
      Bank clerk 754€ 812€ 870€
      Specialised informatiker – Systemintegration 728€ 784€ 859€
      Chef (cooking) 517€ 589€ 660€
      Hotel clerk 517€ 589€ 660€
      Mediasculptor – Digital-|Printmedia 782€ 839€ 898€
      design draftsman (technical design) 763€ 810€ 876€
      Mechatroniker 774€ 819€ 884€
      Lorry Driver 597€ 655€ 710€
      Hairdresser 359€ 446€ 542€
      Restaurant specialist 523€ 593€ 665€
      Dental specialist 531€ 571€ 618€
      Specialist for Strage logistic 707€ 763€ 837€
      Salesperson 620€ 694€ /
      Automobil salesman 559€ 598€ 662€
      Tradesman for Spedition and Logistics 577€ 640€ 700€
      Informatik tradesman 727€ 782€ 853€
      Tradesman for Tourism 547€ 658€ 802€
      Tradesman for Immobilien 710€ 820€ 930€
      Butcher 398€ 484€ 596€
      Plumber 457€ 491€ 553€
      Metalworker 493€ 537€ 605€
      Chemical lab-assistan 721€ 782€ 862€
      Draftsman for housing 474€ 631€ 812€
      Industrial mechanic 770€ 816€ 880€

      • keeptalkinggreece

        thanks a lot Silberschwinge for taking time and write this informative post.
        I’d add a short notice here: one has also to compare wages with purchasing power. In the third year of IMF austerity, cheapest milk is still 1.23 euro/liter, and a yoghurt at 1.20, just to mnetion tow nasic goods. infant formula? diapers? detergents?… a joke when compared to what many people earn nowadays. so far Greek government was unable to tackle this crucial issue.

      • this is all well and good, but the reality is that neither Greece, nor Ireland, Spain, Portugla can get out of the mess we are in, because the whole premises of the “bailouts” is wrong. I’ve commented on this a few weeks ago, KTG has posted on it during the week. Because the main corner stone of an austerity driven recovery is missing, ie. the ability to devalue one’s currency, the projected recovery becomes a myth and the net result is what we see happening all around. It gets worse,fast. Far worse. So, supposing they actually wanted to do something about all of this, the respective governments in the bailout countries simply CAN’T do what they need to do. It’s like telling people in a sinking life boat to keep it afloat, but taking the bailing buckets of them first.
        The second reality is that the German economic superiority was indeed build on internal low wage policies. That economic superiority is being eroded, seriously eroded. The German economy is not as bouyant and as vibrant as we are expected to believe. And what’s the remedy? Creating an economic wasteland around the centre, which automatically creates a work force willing to work for far less than what the German industrialist is paying his German workers right now. And the impoverished people from the peripfory, laid to waste through imposed auterity measures, are now being used as a weapon to drive down German wages even more. Again, KTG blogged on this some time ago. The German government has already set up “recruitement agencies” in Pireaus, Barcelona, Valencia, Vigo, Lisbon, and probably in a good few other centres as well. Recruiting people to come and work in Germany. The spin on the whole things is very nice, helping people get jobs etc. The actual objective is not so nice. And it is high time that German people realise what their government is up to if they want to hang on to their jobs. Industrialist have indeed more than once threatened to move to cheaper wage countires. Continental AG, one of the worlds largest car tire makers, and German owned, declared in the 1990’s that it was their stated policy to have at least 50% of their production in low wage countires. And they closed down factories in Austria, Ireland, Germany itslef, etc. to accomplish that. Now they they have realised it’s far cheaper to bring in cheaper wage workers than move the factories. the whole EU setup has been manipulated to allow exactly that. Just think how handy “Schengen” is in this respect… The only reason these people are cheaper wage workers is because their local economies have been destroyed through centrist policies.
        There is most definitly a reason, and a very good one, to point fingers in the direction they are being pointed. Some 1.1 million Greeks are very accutely aware of that reason! As do a few million Spanish, Irish and Portuguese workers, soon to be joined by a few million Italian ones, and indeed German ones…

        And, KTG, as for the Greek government not being able to tackle the decreasing purchasing power, that too is universal in the European periphery. Why? The products are simply taxed to the hilt because it is about the only way open to any government to possibly collect much needed funds. And it is indeed ordinary Joe Soap who ends up paying DOUBLE for necesities like home heating oil etc. Plain and simple: Extra taxation to make up for the decreased tax collected because of the decreased spending power caused by the imposed policies. That is the vicious circle that needs breaking. And none of the governments in the periphary have the guts to stand up for their peoples and do what’s needed…

        • Thank you, Ephilant.

          People are not educated properly through the normal media. So i should thank all those who read here at KTG and realise what is really happening and in which direction the world is going to.

          It is returning to the good old days of “Yes Master” and “Thank you Master” of the Middle Ages.

          Yes the rich became rich because they created their factories and big business at a time when their was not too much red tape and restrictions in creating a business. But since they got to where they are today. They are afraid of others becoming more equal to them or telling them that their is a new guy on the block.

          It is a kind of Mafia thing. These industrialists. Why should they have more competition to deal with.

          The people are not asking for much. Just give people a fair deal, give them a comfortable salary, to take care of their families and enjoy some small things in life. Like the occassional holiday. Or a new sofa for the house, on one wage. Not two as is at present. No wonder family values are falling when the kids have no guidance at home. Because both parents today are forced to work to make ends meet. And at present the way things are, even that is not going to be enough. And soon the children will have to go to the factories too.

      • giaoýrti giaoyrtáki

        Spiegel, yeah (a)socialdemocrat but that makes no difference cuz it was actually “Der Spiegel” who started the fascist campaign against foreigners with their title picture of a refugee boat and the letters. “The Boat Is Overcrowded”. The results were new racist laws against foreigners, pogroms and 181 people murdered by German Nazis.
        The results of Agenda2010 are a few hundreds of thousands freelancers working poor and every third of under 35 years “employees” being precarious. About 10 million live of 400 euro-jobs and Hartz4 and most of them are women alone with kids. And they are forced to work.
        The only thing one can figure is with German parties that there’s no real difference who is head of the state.

      • Sorry to point out to you Silberschwinge, but not everything is Kosher in Germany and according to the laws.

        A hotelclerk you say as an Azubi starts with 517€, but most of the Azubis i have met in this field get between 300€ and 400€ for the whole 3 years.

        You can say that Germany has taken measures to protect its industry, but at the suffering of the people. If Australia can manage with its higher wage earnings then so could many other countries including Germany. That is why when i speak to Germans they say if they had a chance they would move to Australia. Where a person can really work and earn what he is worth and has something to look forward to.

        In Germany they are still a on the Serfdom principle. The Rich Landlords being the Rich Industrialists and the serfs being the average worker.

        In Germany they do not even strictly implement the day to day working rules and regulations to protect workers. Yes they have the rules and regulations but they do not implement them at the work place in regard to health and safety. I remember working for a German Catering company and working 8 to 12 hours straight without a break or having any thing to eat, just water to drink. Are you telling me that, that is not slavery? And for what, for just 10€ per hour brutto.

        In Australia after 5 hours you have to have a break for at least 30 minutes. And if you work after 7PM you get a 25% bonus and on Saturdays you get a 50% bonus on Sundays and Public Holidays a 100% bonus.

        And in Australia there is no Tax Class as in Germany, for example if you are single you should pay more tax. In Australia everyone pays the same regardless of your sex, your marital status, or how many years you worked in the job. In Australia you pay according to how much you earn. The more you earn the more you pay. And in Australia they also have a luxury goods tax. If you can afford it pay for it.

        And in Australia everyone has Medicare National Health Insurance regardless if you are self employed or not. Unlike in Germany where if you are self employed and do not pay for a couple of months you are black listed and penalised.

        Just to register a business name in Germany, there is so much papers to fill out.

        In Australia it is simplified, everything is simplified because the people do not have the time to be run around they just want to get on with it.

        So which Democracy is more Democratic Germany or Australia.

        Believe me if Germany had the chance half of them would move to Australia the next day.

        • giaoýrti giaoyrtáki

          But just like Amerika Australia is an illegal state on stolen land.

          • True, but so was Greece!

          • This is such a pointless statement. Spain, France, Portugal, England, Germany,Hungary, Ireland, Canada, USA,…every country in the world has gone through many shifts in population, either through war, or natural disaster, or epidemics, anything. So how far back do you want to go to find the “original of the species” who has the right to claim a particular piece of earth? In Europe alone you have had so many wars, occupactions, epidemics, where do you start?
            So who has any right to claim any piece of land? Nobody has. Does our hangup on property ownership and little boxes called countries (in which we somehow volunteer as prisoners and proudly carry a piece of paper stating to which prison we belong, number and all, and wave it’s particular flag around) give us any “right” to territory? No it doesn’t. It is yet another control system, preventing us from concentrating on what we should be concentrating on, being human beings instead of being a certain nationality…

          • giaoýrti giaoyrtáki

            This are the “arguments” of the Turkish and Spanish torturers against Kurds and Basques and like Australians true Americans survived the genocides and are still living and suffering. Mexican Indians are not allowed to travel in their own homeland and still one can go to jail for not speaking English and all your super nations won’t exist without pillaging everything from the other continents: No Europeans without robbing cultures of potatoes and corn, no capitalism without stealing gold and silver, no stupid humanism without tobacco and coffee, no European overpopulation without cacao.

          • So, now we know what the world wouldn’t be if…. Unfortunately, the “if” did happen, many times over, and here we are. So, how do you suggest we deal with the reality of things instead of a hypothetical situation that may have arisen if all these variables hadn’t happened?

          • giaoýrti giaoyrtáki

            The point is very easy: In their racist fortress “suffering” Europeans take all the rights they want to migrate anywhere they like without ever taking notice that there are totally suppressed people who should decide about this. It’s the same with politicians: Not even regimes like Iran will point out that all UN blabla in New York is ridiculous because it’s housed on Algonquin ground.

          • Well, I lived in Iran for 9 years. Great people, but wouldn’t expect their politicians to point out anything to anybody. Very much like politicians everywhere else. I do happen to agree that the whole UN bit is indeed crystal clear nonsense, but it doesn’t really matter where something is based or build to come to that conclusion, does it? In fact, I would think the location has absolutely nothing to do with it. I find your reasonings fascinatingly hard to follow…

          • giaoýrti giaoyrtáki

            Just imagine that the 500 Nations are not allowed in UN.

          • giaoýrti giaoyrtáki

            But you can’t go to a reserve and ask politely for a visa.

          • “Just imagine that the 500 Nations are not allowed in UN.”

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but you are obviously talking about Native American Nations. Isn’t the precisely what I’ve been saying? When you say “Nations”, you mean people, not some geographic patch of land somewhere, defined by borders and flags and police and all the other controle systems. The UN isn’t about people. If it was, they wouldn’t have to have their famous HR devision, they would BE the HR division, full stop. It’s about stuff and posessions and property and oil and banks and all that kind of crap, not people. And it should be…

  2. Greece should look outside the EU for ideas and role models.

    Greeks are not Lazy in General, look at those in the private sector who work hard for their money. But because of the Austerity measures have had their wages cut from pre Austerity 700€ per month to 400€ per month.

    That is what Germany wants to do to Greece, use Greece for cheap labour, for their industrial supplies. So they could afford to compete with China.

    But a Mercedes Benz today is not the same as a Mercedes Benz of the 1980`s. Most of its components are made in China, but are still sold at high prices.

    There are too many injustices in the world, and all there is to say is that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. There is no more middle class.

    Greece has made many mistakes because its people were mislead, because it did favour the rich not just the Greek Elite but also the rich from other nations, making under the table deals. Just like Siemens did in Greece. And i have heard and read many stories of German and other international companies offering bribes to clinch a deal.

    Especially to politicians.

    And let us not forget that Greece was plundered of its wealth, by the Ottoman Turkish Empire, then by the many internationls, during its early independence, (such as the Parthenon Marbles), and then in WWII by the NAZIS whom first took the Gold Reserves of Greece to Berlin and then the countries other natural resources and cultural treasures.

    So on this point Greece deserves these monies and at interest free rates, and no pay back.

    There are many points of why Greece is in the position it is now but the point is that Greece is being screwed from many directions for many reasons. And one of the main ones is because of its natural resources and its strategic position.

    BUT, Greece still needs a New Start with a New Government a strong Government that will put the country and the people first. And none of the existing parties or leaders of them fit the criteria at present, NONE.

    I support the attitude of the PM of Hungary at present with his critics on the EU. They are justified.

    The EU is just like a marriage, but when outsiders (the in laws, or siblings, or cousins, or friends) interfere, the marriage is bound to fall apart.