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article imageOp-Ed: Amid protests Greek parliament passes austerity provisions

By Ken Hanly     Jul 17, 2013 in Politics
Athens - The Greek parliament narrowly approved a "reform" bill that will see thousands lose their jobs and public services cut. Greece recently has seen strikes and protests against the cuts.
The vote in favor of the bill was 153 for to 140 against. The measures are part of the requirements of receiving another 6.8 billion euros to keep Greece afloat. There were thousands of protesters outside the parliament in the capital, Athens during the debate. Earlier there had been strikes.
The conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras claims that the government had no choice but to pass the painful austerity measures. The bill will see 4,000 state employees including teachers and government workers dismissed this year. In addition to them, 25,000 will put in a "mobility pool" by the end of 2013.
Workers in the euphemistically named "mobility pool" will be put on 75% of their salary for 8 months during which time they must seek redeployment in another department. Should they fail to be redeployed they will be classified as redundant, meaning that they will join that other pool of the unemployed or become "mobility challenged".
In order to comply with demands of the troika of the European Union, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund, it is expected that about 11,000 Greeks will lose their jobs. Earlier austerity measures have already led to salary cuts and reduced pensions in the public sector. In spite of all these measures Chris Morris of the BBC in Athens reports that the Greek debt still remains unsustainably high and will require even more austerity measures. Already some public workers have seen their salaries and pensions reduced by up to 40%.
Some of the debt may simply require being written off. The austerity measures have produced an unemployment rate of 27% and continued unrest with strikes and protests.
In a recent opinion poll 66 per cent of Greece opposed the new austerity measure. A total of 86 per cent of respondents said they are facing financial difficulties after more than four years of recession in Greece. The Greek economy has shrunk by 25%. Even next year the economy is still expected shrink by 4%. This would be six straight years of declining production in Greece.
The former finance minister George Papaconstantinou is to be prosecuted over allegations that he tampered with a list of 2,000 suspected tax evaders. One of the contributors to the high Greek debt is tax evasion. The Greek crisis seems far from over.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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