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Workers and society boil over additional austerity & more income cuts

Doctors working in public hospitals gathered in downtown Athens to protest the admittedly horrible situation in Greece’s hospitals. Holding banners and chanting slogan, doctors and other hospital personnel demanded raise in the public funding and hiring of doctors and nurses.

Tension between protesters and riot police. Protesters have been carrying around the symbol of a troubled Greek patient on a stretcher covered with surgery cloth.

Protesters from Crete sing Mantinada to Health Minister Polakis (also from Crete)

Protesting health personnel dances

Teachers launched also a protest claiming that the ‘reforms’ in the Greek education system targets the firing of teachers. They demanded that more education personnel is hired.

Workers at metro, tram and urban train have another work stoppage today as they oppose that public transfer companies go under the new Privatization Fund.

Also pensioners took to the streets of the Greek capital today, demanding “no further cuts” in their pensions especially as prices go up due to Value Added Tax hikes. The most recent decision of the Finance Ministry provides cuts of up to 40%-50% in supplementary pensions for those receiving more than €1,300 gross (1,170 net) per month coming from main and supplementary pension.

A supplementary pension from private sector insurance fund IKA, for example currently €170 would go down to 85 euro.

The measure will affect approximately 200,000 pensioners and furthermore they will have to return the sums they have received from 1.1.2016 until 1.6.2016.

284,000 pensioners of the public sector will suffer further cuts as the dividends they receive form the Civil Servants Share Fund (MTPY) will be lowered at 32% as of end of this month. The cuts will be applied retrospective as of 1.1.2016 and will have to be paid back to the Fund in September and December.

These two forms of pension cuts are part of the Labor Ministry law that slaughters new main pensions, supplementary pensions, cuts in lump sums, abolishing of low-pensioner benefits (EKAS), decreases in widows pensions, cuts in other social benefits and allowances.

For one more time, the Finance Ministry made clear that there will be no tax returns and that they will be counterbalanced with the “Unified Property Tax “(ENFIA). That means that if the tax return is €500 and the ENFIA to be paid is €500 the tax-office will keep the tax-return and book the amount for ENFIA. However, loyal to Greek tradition of doing things half-way, I read nowhere that will happen if the receiver fo tax-return has no property of his own. A friend has been waiting for a tax return of 900 euro since August 2014.

Cuts in incomes and increases in expenses has the society boiling. Over taxation has freelancers and self-employed considering to stop their business activities. the general slogan is “Leave Greece.”

However, not all frustrated Greeks can migrate and seek a job abroad. For quite a number of  Greeks without hope, there are quite some hurdles like a family with kids, the age, foreign languages, lack of ‘connections’ outside Greece. What’s the purpose of getting a bad paid job abroad if you can hardly make a living?

So, what shall they do? Sit down and wait for growth and development to come?

I have no answers. But I know for sure that I am completely fed up having to follow this formula of “prior actions & prerequisites-blackmail-bailout tranche” for six consecutive years that leads to nowhere -except for more burden on the society.

A so-called civic movement called “Resign!” is planning a huge protest against the government on June 15th. The protest to be held in Athens and other major Greek cities aims to demand from the government to resign. Although the movement claims to be independent and with bonds with certain political parties, participants will chant the same demand main opposition party New Democracy preaches. What a coincidence! Already I saw on Twitter some ND supporters calling for people to join the protest.

What will the opposition do better? Push for mass lay-offs in public and private sector.

And then? The country will be saved again, the people will go under.

A friend of mine told me recently he was in the following dilemma with regards to political direction he would follow in the future: “Shall I support those stealing money from me and I know who they are [Nd, PASOK] or those doing the same but I don’t know how they steal as they are new {SYRIZA]?” the friend was a fierce PASOK supporter for more than two decades, he voted twice for SYRIZa in 2015. Now, he feels politically lost because “they follow the same austerity policies and there is no end in near future.”

No Hope.

…and the new Labor Reform is underway, a reform perfectly matching to the French neoliberal Labor Reform.

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2 comments

  1. You forgot to mention that Goldman Sachs on behalf of the Greek government will start seizing properties in September for greedy members of Troika and their friends.

    Soon Athens will be full of foreigners driving black-window SUVs and islanders will discover guns & dogs preventing access to the shore on behalf of the new 1%ers beach front property owners. Universal public access to the sea will be abolished in the new fascist “presidential” constitution.

    • Giaourti Giaourtaki

      Therefore Putin is a smart dog, because he hopes that a Kalashnikov-factory will beam Greece perfectly onto new levels of resistance, everyone with a hunting license leasing the hunters’ AK “sport” version will make up welcome-committees for SUV-scum and their mercenaries; may be later Germoney will send her unemployed as mercenaries because no-one likes such ugly jobs but they all soon will die in the sun from Raki and sun.
      But things go much easier. One can just explain the buyers why the colours of the sea get more awesome year on year: It’s because the sea is empty, the sea is dead, so why should anyone buy in this hoax? The era of postcards is long gone…