Friday, 23 September 2011

Greeks stage strike over layoffs, tax hikes and pay cuts in austerity drive

The Irish Times – Friday, September 23, 2011
DAMIAN Mac CON ULADH in Athens
GREEKS WERE yesterday left calculating the personal consequences of their government’s renewed austerity drive, announced on Wednesday evening, to secure aid to save the debt-laden country from default.
The announcement of the first 30,000 layoffs in the public sector, along with a new wave of tax hikes and cuts to wages and pensions, was met with widespread labour action and furious recriminations by the political opposition.
The mood among the public was that the government, after failing to implement the necessary structural reforms, was being forced once again to place the burden of austerity on easy targets.
The government cannot go on announcing measure after measure that target salaried employees and pensioners,” complained university lecturer Yannis Zabetakis, “without doing anything to tackle the serious problem of systematic tax evasion.”
Mr Zabetakis said his family would now be paying more income tax following the dropping of the tax-free allowance to €5,000, and up to €1,300 a year in new property taxes.
Yesterday, the government said that the new property tax – to be raised via power bills and which was only supposed to run for two years – may be extended beyond that. That news resulted in even more home-owners joining queues outside branches of state electricity provider DEI to apply to have the power disconnected at holiday homes, ancestral village properties and disused buildings.
Among those demonstrating yesterday were 150 secondary and third-level students, who took their protest to the private residence of prime minister George Papandreou, located in the leafy northern suburbs of Athens.
As riot police kept them at a distance from the home, the students chanted “Bread, Education, Freedom”, a slogan which has its origins in the student protests against the military dictatorship in the early 1970s, in which many of the members of the current government also took part.
Since his last public appearance, at a press conference held at the Thessaloniki international trade fair on September 11th, many Greeks have been asking where their prime minister is.
In a play on his full initials of GAP – Papandreou’s middle name is Andreas, after his father – Greeks have for days been tweeting the hashtag “FindtheGap”, in an effort to locate the seemingly elusive prime minister.
Mr Papandreou returned to the public sphere yesterday, making a brief statement to reporters after he had a meeting with some MPs to allay their fears about the new measures.
The mood within his Pasok party was described yesterday in the Greek media as “stormy”, with claims that some MPs were once again voicing the view that they had been asked to vote against their conscience for more austerity too many times.
However, there are no clear signs yet that any MP would be prepared to topple the government by voting against it when the new austerity measures come to a parliamentary vote.
Commuters in Athens will be inconvenienced again today as transport workers have decided to continue yesterday’s protest that imposed gridlock on the Greek capital. On what should have been marked as European No-Car Day in Athens, commuters had to resort to their own cars, triggering kilometres-long traffic jams.
A three-hour work stoppage by air traffic controllers caused considerable delays and flight cancellations at Athens airport.
Among the public workers that held demonstrations were police and firefighters, who gathered outside the French and German embassies in protest at what they claimed was the unfair treatment of Greece.
Further strikes are planned, including a 48-hour public transport and taxi driver strike on September 27th and 28th, and two general strikes in October.
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I think that I’ll start reading news about Greece only in foreign newspapers…starting  with the Irish Times…The greek press is so poor in giving facts and so over-rich to state feelings without substance!
needless to say…Well written Damian! especially the paragraph on GAP Jr [as opposed to GAP Sn who started the "free books at schools"]. Now, his grandson prefers DVDs…
so Sad…
so yap…yap…

2 comments:

BUTTERFLY said...

Εξαιρετο αρθρο! Μα εννοειται οτι δεν εχει νοημα να διαβαζει κανεις τον εγχωριο τυπο, εχει προ πολλου ξεπουληθει, με ελαχιστες φωτεινες εξαιρεσεις, οχι αρκετες για να αποκαταστησουν τον κλαδο...
Την καλημερα μου και καλη ακαδημαϊκη χρονια!

Yannis Zabetakis said...

καλημέρα καλημέρα Πεταλουδίτσα! εξαιρέσεις??? για πες καμιά!

καλή χρονιά και σε σένα!