Socialist Worker

Greek MPs to vote on more cuts as fightback set to grow

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2463

Crowds outside the Greek parliament last week

Crowds outside the Greek parliament last week (Pic: Workers Solidarity)


MPs were set to vote on the second round of austerity measures in Greece’s new bailout package on Wednesday of this week.

The public sector trade union federation Adedy has called a protest outside.

The European Union (EU) demanded cuts and tax hikes worth £9.2 billion. The Greek government led by Alexis Tsipras of left wing party Syriza is now pushing them through parliament.

The first round of cuts was passed with the support of the discredited right wing parties—as over 600,000 public sector workers struck against them (see top of next page).

Both Tsipras and the EU loan sharks tried to present Greece as returning to “normal” on Monday of this week. 

That meant the reopening of banks, whose branches have been closed for three weeks. But there was also a dramatic increase in VAT for food in restaurants, from 13 percent to 23 percent.

And to show that there would be no repeat of the missed payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last month, Greece paid £2.4 billion to the European Central Bank (ECB) on Monday of this week.

That’s more than half the “bridging loan” granted last Friday to tide Greece over until bailout funds are released. The rest will be used up by mid-August in other payments to the EU, ECB and IMF.

The bailout will repeat this on a larger scale. At first Greece’s “Troika” of institutional creditors were giving money to private banks. 

Now they are simply paying themselves. But their crisis is far from over.

Calls for another mass strike this week were defeated, with parliament set to close for its summer recess. 

Ready

But when it reopens to implement the cuts workers say they will be ready to fight back.

Dockers and hospital workers are already in dispute against privatisation, understaffing and unpaid wages.

The new measures will bring these to many thousands more workers. 

Leading figures on the other side are openly worrying about whether their deal could still fall apart. 

European Council chief Donald Tusk, the IMF, the ECB and the French government all spoke last week about the need to write off some of Greece’s unsustainable debt.

They still want to make ordinary Greeks pay for the bankers’ crisis. 

But they fear that demanding the impossible could push Greece into outright default. 

They already granted one “haircut” in 2012 to trim the debt and see a second as a lesser evil.

Another faction led by the German government fears that any sign of weakness could set a precedent for breaking with austerity.

Underlying this are two problems no amount of austerity will solve. 

One is Greece’s shattered economy. 

The other is its still-unbroken workers’ movement.


Trade unionists here send solidarity to Greek strikers

Socialists and trade unionists in Britain sent support for last week’s strike in Greece. 

The Unison union branch in Doncaster sent a donation of £200 to the Greek public sector workers’ trade union federation Adedy, which called the strike.

Branch secretary Jim Board wrote in a message of solidarity, “We also know that what happens to Greece and to Greek workers today can happen to us tomorrow. 

“Neoliberalism threatens a race to the bottom for all workers and the growth of inequality for all peoples.

“This is why the action you are taking today is an inspiration and a rallying cry for workers in the UK and across Europe.”

To invite a Greek worker to speak at a trade union meeting contact the SWP 020 7819 1170

EU parliaments vote on deal

The German parliament voted to accept the new bailout deal on Friday of this week—with opposition.

Right wing rebels in chancellor Angela Merkel’s Tory CDU party voted against the deal for not being tough enough. 

But the left wing party Die Linke also voted no in solidarity with the people of Greece. 

There were also solidarity protests against the agreement in 14 cities across Germany last Saturday.

Several other EU parliaments had to vote on the agreement. Finland’s MPs accepted it last Thursday. 

The right wing eurosceptic party True Finns is part of a coalition government. It had threatened to bring the government down if the deal wasn’t harsh enough.

Meanwhile Greek defence minister Panos Kammenos—leader of Syriza’s right wing coalition partner the Independent Greeks—signed an agreement with Israel on Monday of this week. 

Greek and Israeli troops can now carry out exercises on each other’s territory.

This is the first time Israel has made such an agreement with a country other than the US.


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