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New austerity package gives Greece's rulers a headache

The Greek government has announced £9 billion in new cuts—but it can’t hide the chaos it is causing, writes Nikos Loudos


Greece’s new government has agreed to implement a savage new cuts package. This follows meetings last week with the “Troika”—the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Union.

The new package will impose more than £9 billion more cuts on people in Greece. The three parties that make up Greece’s government ran their election campaigns just three months ago on the slogan of “renegotiation” with the Troika.

Yet they are now committed to raising the retirement age to 67, slashing pensions and abolishing benefits. They also plan to cut higher education, close hospitals, restrict free healthcare and privatise services.

Ministers are trying to hide the havoc caused by their austerity plans by clamping down on migrants. More than 10,000 people were brought to police stations in just three days last week.

Police officers “sweep” the streets and take anyone who seems to be poor and has darker skin. Half of these officers, according to official electoral statistics, had voted for the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party. They put migrants who don’t have legal papers into recently built concentration camps.

Right wing prime minister Antonis Samaras ordered the police operation. But he can’t hide the fact that austerity doesn’t work.

Expulsion

Crisis is unfolding in each of the three main parties. A former minister in the previous New Democracy government who criticised cuts now faces expulsion from the party.

The chief whip of Pasok said at a recent meeting that the party’s leader, Evangelos Venizelos, should go to hell. Dimar, the third party in the coalition, already has three MPs who say they won’t vote for the austerity measures.

Amid the growing crisis, workers’ struggle continues. Workers at the Agricultural Bank have been on indefinite strike for over a week against privatisation. Strikers protest and picket every day. They discuss their strike in mass assemblies.

The Agricultural Bank is one of the last state banks. It was excluded from “recapitalisation” while private banks were recapitalised—and used that public money to buy public banks.

Some 5,000 workers at Agricultural Bank could lose their jobs. And tens of thousands of farmers on land controlled by the bank may lose it if they can’t pay their debts.

On Monday the employees of Post Bank, another public bank, walked out for three hours against privatisation as well. They were set to strike on Wednesday of this week.

And over 1,000 workers at the biggest shipyard in Greece are on indefinite strike against its closure. The idea of occupying the factory is growing more popular.


Article information

International
Tue 7 Aug 2012, 18:14 BST
Issue No. 2315
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