The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Greece Plots Austerity against Workers

Mar 1, 2010

The Greek government promised the other countries of the European Union to straighten out its situation, meaning it plans to make the population pay for the crisis. The plan adopted at the beginning of February involved a wage freeze, cutting bonuses by 10% on average and cutting thousands of government jobs.

The government also decided to increase the tax on gasoline and to require workers to stay on the job two more years, bringing the average retirement age to 63 by 2015. The Minister of Labor dishonestly said it’s a question of “modifying the pension system in order to keep it alive,” while also announcing the end of early retirement financed by the State.

The state announced a reform to struggle against corruption and tax avoidance. Certainly, the State loses a certain amount of revenue – a third of the economy is “underground” and undeclared. But the government quickly moved to attack taxi drivers, who went on strike on February 19, rather than attacking shipowners or financiers.

The other austerity measures planned for the Greek population: raising the value-added tax from 19% to 20%, the end of a month’s bonus for public service employees, the end of summer allocations given to retirees, cutting the stipend for large families by 30%, etc., all to save five billion dollars.

This is an unprecedented attack on retirees, six out of ten of whom get less than $810 a month and on all workers, whose purchasing power is already 20% lower than the European average.

The unions of government workers said at least 70% took part in the February 10 strike. Others plan to strike later in February.

Greek workers will have to deploy all their forces in order not to pay the cost for a situation produced by and for the capitalists.