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The News Line: Feature IMF-OECD demand even more wage cuts in Greece
Building workers demonstrating outside the Labour Ministry in February
In his Annual Report published last Tuesday, the Bank of Greece governor Yiorghos Provopoulos spelled out clearly what is demanded by the European Commission (EC) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) overlords from the government that will be formed following the general election of Sunday May 6th.

Provopoulos’ Annual Report is an out-and-out political manifesto that dictates to the bourgeois parties the tasks ahead and what they must do.

His main points are that the EC-IMF Bailout Agreements imposed on Greece in early March must be implemented at all costs, otherwise ‘the country will fall on the most adverse conditions’.

Therefore, Provopoulos says, ‘the political forces must agree on what unites them, that is the continuation of the state’, meaning the capitalist state.

This is a capitalist state which early in March declared bankruptcy through the so-called ‘haircut’ of the Greek State Bonds. The Greek debt is now estimated by the Greek Statistics Authority (GSA) at 355.6 billion Euros, 165.3 per cent of the GNP while last year the deficit reached 9.1 per cent.

Now the European Investment Bank demanded that a ‘drachma clause’ should be included in the 70m euro loan asked for by the DEH (State Electricity Corporation).

The ‘Commissioner’ of the EC-IMF overlords in Greece, Horst Reichenbach, demanded that DEH should sell four of its coal power stations and all the coal mines, while converting other power stations to natural gas, which is imported to Greece.

On the economy, the Bank of Greece governor states that recession, the collapse in the economy, will reach five per cent this year with a further increase in unemployment.

Just a week ago the GSA announced a staggering 46.6 per cent increase in unemployment last year as compared to 2010. In January 2011, unemployment stood at 14.8 per cent whereas in January of this year it reached 21.8 per cent. GSA say that 1,084,668 people were out of work last January but the Labour Institute of the GSEE (Greek TUC) estimates that over 1.5m workers are unemployed. Youth unemployment, according to GSA, has reached 50.8 per cent.

Provopoulos repeats the diktats for huge further cuts of 15-20 per cent in the wages of Greek workers made this week by both the IMF’s managing director Christine Lagarde and by José Angel Gurria, the secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Gurria demanded an immediate minimum wage cut from ‘751 euros to 586 euros per month’. A salary of 586 euros means just 400 euros (£360) in hand.

Armed with a law which writes off national collective agreements, the employers are imposing so-called ‘personal contracts’ (mainly in small businesses) or ‘business contracts’ (in manufacturing and large industries).

According to the state Labour Inspection Board, those who signed ‘personal contracts’ had their wages cut by 22 to 50 per cent, while those who signed ‘business contracts’ had their wages reduced by 22.35 to 40 per cent.

Throughout this critical period the GSEE (Greek TUC), the ADEDY (public sector trade unions federation) as well as the leaders of the large and powerful trade unions (mines, electricity, ports, engineering, construction, energy) have remained completely silent and inactive.

The only action by the GSEE bureaucrats was to take the government to the High Court claiming that the abolition of collective agreements was illegal.

But workers in a number of industries and in the public sector are waging a determined fight despite the refusal to offer even moral support by the GSEE-ADEDY leaders.

The Elefsis Shipyards workers, just 20 km away from the Athens city centre, are now on strike since the management ordered a one-day working week! Across the city of Elefsis, workers in the Hellenic Steel plant are continuing their strike, now in its 180th day, against ‘flexible’ working conditions, wage cuts and mass sackings.

So are workers in hospitals, who carried out demonstrations last week, public transport workers, shop assistants and clothing workers.

Faced with annihilation at the election, both the New Democracy Party (conservatives) headed by Antonis Samaras and the PASOK party (social-democrats) led by former Finance Minister Vagelis Venizelos, the two main bourgeois parties up to now, are issuing threatening calls that unless they form a government, anarchy will reign in the country and no wages or pensions will be paid at all.

The leader of the conservatives, Samaras, called for just a 15 per cent corporation and business tax and announced that his government would privatise immediately all public urban transport and railways. On his part the PASOK leader Venizelos claims that it was due to his efforts that ‘Greece was saved’.

The IMF’s director Lagarde has repeatedly called for a post-election coalition government of the two main parties. Lagarde has even hinted that the re-appointment of the banker Lucas Papademos as Prime Minister would be appropriate.

Thus Lagarde dismisses the whole edifice of bourgeois parliamentary democracy.

The problem is that opinion polls carried by all the capitalist press predict just 20 per cent for the conservatives and 15 per cent for the social-democrats. That is not enough for the two of them to form a coalition government despite the Greek Electoral System that provides the top party at the polls with 50 seats in the 300-seat Vouli (parliament).

As the economic crisis hits the eurozone harder and harder, the political crisis in Greece and in other European countries becomes critical and will burst out.

The ruling class in Greece, aided and led by its masters in NATO and in the EC, are preparing the army’s ‘special forces’, along with other state security and intelligence agencies, to attack workers and youth and beat them into accepting the barbaric wage cuts and generalised unemployment.

The Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoides has ordered the construction of the first concentration camp very near Athens to imprison so called ‘illegal immigrants’. It will be workers, youth and trade unionists next, unless Greek workers force a political indefinite general strike to kick out the EC and IMF and the entire capitalist system.


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