Once again the Greek economy has hit the headlines. A new wave of austerity measures is sure to spell disaster for the working class in Greece.
We have all seen the dramatic scenes of Greek workers taking to the streets, expressing their desperation through the only means they have. The reason for this reaction is clear. Overall unemployment currently stands at 20.9%, including half of all 16 to 24 year olds. Social spending and pensions have been slashed, and wages have been cut by up to a third, giving rise to greater poverty and homelessness. Bearing in mind that these figures were recorded before the new wave of austerity measures, you can see why it is so crucial for the working class in Greece to unify. They face the prospect of 150,000 job losses in the public sector alone, within the next two years, accompanied by further cuts to the minimum wage and a chaotic instability that darkens their lives.
The media bombard us with figures so huge they can be very difficult to really grasp the effects they have on real people. The focal point of the recent backlash has been the newly agreed package of loans, crudely disguised as an “aid package” by EU ministers. Without the consent of the people it directly affects, the package gives the Greek Government €130 billion to pay off a portion of its debt, which currently stands at €350 billion, on the assurance that the Greek government drive through yet another numbing wave of austerity measures. The assurance given by the Greek government, with the usual indifference towards workers, included a further €3 billion to be cut from government spending in a “timely and efficient manner.” This will have massive consequences for the workers of Greece. Health care, education, welfare and pensions will all suffer meaning a real drop in living standards for the people. The budget for Greek health care was set at €6.1 billion but is now facing a €1.8 billion cut, almost a third. That will mean fewer doctors, nurses, less access to vital medication and equipment as well as a drop in the overall standard of care. This cut, amongst a number of others, demonstrates just how the workers of Greece have been completely disregarded by their government in the face of capitalist interest. Even EU commissionaires privately acknowledge that this will not prevent a Greek default, but serves to delay it in the hope of protecting their own financial interests in Greece.
The Greek worker’s are made to pay the bill for the capitalists’ financial crisis and their own corrupt government. However the Greek working class was also on the forefront of giving the bosses and bankers a good fightback, with several massive strike actions and huge demonstrations on the street. It might not be long until there will be “Greek conditions” in other countries, like Britain. We could win a lot if we would learn from the example of our Greek friends and learn to speak Greek with our bosses.