Why are the Greeks protesting?
The Greek trade unions have called a general strike for Thursday 1 December. GSEE international officer Zoe Lanara explains why.
Today’s general strike, called by the Greek General Confederation of Labour GSEE and the civil servants’ confederation ADEDY, is designed to protest the country’s 2012 budget which brings €7.1 billion in new regular and emergency taxes and heaps further cuts on pensions, wages and social spending. The new budget plainly shows who is paying for the crisis and how injustice is piled on injustice. Wage earners and pensioners who in 2011 paid 55.5% of all taxes (52.5% in 2008) are now being told to pay more while businessmen, if they pay at all, contribute only 28.6% (30.8% in 2008).
GSEE president Yiannis Panagopoulos said:
“The government has changed but the unfair and ineffective recessionary policy hasn’t. As long as this policy continues and leaves social devastation in its wake, we will firmly oppose it.”
Despite the hardship imposed on its people, Greece will miss key deficit targets set by the “troika” for this year and the next. The economy will remain stuck in recession– revised at 2.8%, private consumption will fall by 4. 1% and investment by 7. 5%. Real unemployment will reach 26% in 2012 with 1.3 million unemployed not counting thousands of civil servants to be shortly dismissed as “labour reserves”.
In Greece, in 2011, teacher unions report that children fainting during classes in central Athens schools were diagnosed with starvation. Many children lack the basics and study in unheated homes. Nonetheless, tax on heating oil has now been raised to the level of fuel oil and a litre of milk costs more here than in Brussels.
“Why do you protest all the time in Greece?” we are often asked. How could we not? When such injustice and devastation are wrought upon workers and their families trade unions, provided they can still mobilize, cannot remain in social apathy.