By Dimitris Karageorgopoulos*
After three years of implementing failed policies imposed by Greece’s MoU with its international lenders, Greek society is experiencing poverty and misery and the economy is being dragged deeper into recession.
The Greek government offers the troika a good service and very poor service to the country. This is evident by the tragic unemployment rates, the abolition of democratic and labor rights, the tax raid, layoffs in the public sector and the “tombstone” placed on the Greek people.
They attempt to save the country without achieving it while destroying the people in the process.
Their goal is now clear; an internal devaluation through leveling any notion of social justice, labor and social security. The harsh fiscal and structural adjustment imposed on Greece is turning an economic crisis into a humanitarian crisis. If measures addressing unemployment are not takes immediately, the situation will become even more dramatic. It is inconceivable that employees today, wherever they work, are considered potentially unemployed and not vice versa. This is a policy which – to put it simply – they are not pulling off. Data the scientific collaborators of GSEE (workers Union) are currently processing are, unfortunately, ominous for the future. They – and we – do not share the opinion that the Greek economy will return to growth in 2014. INE/GSEE data show recession will stand at 2 – 2.5 pct in 2014 and unemployment will be as high as 31.5 to 32 pct. Up until now in our country 180.000 companies have gone out of business while fixed capital investment has dropped 62.8 pct. In order for 50.000 jobs to be created in 2015, according to the estimations of scientists collaborating with GSEE Union, Greece’s growth rate should be at 3.5 to 4 pct. The Greek economy cannot achieve that.
Even if the government’s and the troika’s predications for 3.5 – 4 pct growth in 2015 are proved right, it would take decades for the 1.5 million unemployed people to find work.
Therefore, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel with these policies. And it’s not just those who are registered unemployed that are the problem but also those working without any pay and those getting by on small wages.
All those that are left in the hands of employers and are forced to work uninsured instead of not working at all. To give you an example of the IKA (social security organization) data on uninsured and “black” labor, it was found via checks on 1.345 companies that a total of 1680 employees were uninsured. The companies were fined a total of 1.000.000 euros.
Pension funds are collapsing not only because they are losing contributions due to the rise of unemployment figures but also because of the rise of “black” and uninsured labor. And nothing is being done. This is both frightening and disappointing. At the time results speak for themselves, the government and the troika are closing their ears. They don’t listen to Greek society and they also don’t hear the international outcry.
Recently, the ILO called the Greek government, following repeated complaints by GSEE, to account for the violation of international labor agreements.
The ILO called for the immediate review of measures taken by the government and the restoration of their impact; measures that, according to the International Organization, violate convention 98 as well as collective autonomy and also weaken the process of collective bargaining.
And it’s not just the decision of the ILO. It is also case-law and recommendations made by other bodies of the UN and the Council of Europe that they have not listened to. Will that this in its legal arsenal, GSEE appealed to the Council of State and we await the Supreme Court’s decision. Based on it we will proceed on other levels too, and by this I mean the Court of Human Rights.
Aside from the daily struggle, general strikes and interventions at every level we take advantage of every possibility to put a definitive end to the government’s austerity policies imposed by the MoU. As we stressed from day one, this isn’t just a race but a marathon.
Dimitris Karageorgopoulos, Press Secretary and Public Relations of General Confederation of Greek Workers