The news out of Greece gets worse and worse. As every cut demanded by the troika of the IMF, EU and European Central Bank bites, in an attempt to reduce public sector debt, the economy slides further into recession, and public sector debt goes up, rather than down. Greek trade unionists despair about the downward spiral that their economy is being forced into, and the attack on hard won workers’ rights that the troika is now demanding.
This weekend, yet another round of cuts was agreed by the Greek Cabinet. And yesterday the government formally acknowledged that the troika had requested the abolition of the National Collective Labour Agreement, which establishes universal minima for salaries and other terms and conditions.
Mnisters said the move took them by surprise as it had not come up in previous discussions. The demand was conveyed by e-mail to the Employment Minister’s office, urging the government to take legislative steps and scrap the national collective agreement so that labour costs could be slashed in individual negotiations in the private sector, as well as the cuts and solidarity levies which are being imposed on public sector workers.
The implication is that failure to conform will impede the release of the latest bailout instalment that is under discussion at the moment. The Greek trade union confederation GSEE’s Zoe Lanara, who wrote for Touchstone about the last round of cuts just a fortnight ago, says:
The National Collective Labour Agreement is enshrined in the Constitution. There is a unanimous uproar and even employer organisations have spoken up in opposition using unusually strong language.