Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Strike Season

With reforms desperately needed to Greece's pension system, the government is enacting stop-gap measures at a glacial pace to bandage the system while keeping the elite civil servants happy.

But of course their arrogance knows no bounds and for this reason All of Greece is suffering Strikes.
The result is:
Athens looks like one of its many illegal open air rubbish tips as a result of Sanitation workers strike.
Power outages across all of Greece as electrical workers go on strike leaving areas without power for up to 6 hours. (At the same time Greece gets fined for not opening up its electricity market to competition - Greece also has failed to meet its renewable electricity target of a measly 6% - and no new plants have been built meaning that electricity demands have outstripped supply, increasing reliance on burning oil for energy)
One Illegal Stockmarket strike damaging Greece's nascent business market and reputation
Bank strikes which may mean a shortage of cash from ATMs as cash reserves in banks fall dangerously low. (If we still had the Drachma inflation fears would be rampant!)

All in all the government is doing what it does best - Management by incompetence
And is in no danger of collapsing because no one else wants the job.


graffic said...

If all Greece is on strike, and "almost" all Greece voted the two main political parties (almost 80% votes) that are now playing the government and opposition game, but without fixing anything.

Then, for me is because "they" wanted that, and the strikes are because they want more days off (or perhaps the other 20% is making them).

If there is any other reason, please, some one explain.

kukutsi said...

Yes, they are horrible, those public-sector employees. Going on strike and forfeiting their wages to defend their "rights" for decent salaries/pensions, when there are others who do not get decent salaries/pensions.
As for bank workers (most of whom do NOT have permanent jobs), they are so depraved that they jeopardize their promotion/job-security prospects just to pursue the above-mentioned selfish goals.
Some especially depraved individuals have even gone on strike to support people in other fields of employment, or striking students, in a pretence of "solidarity" with them. They're not fooling me.
Anyway, my proposal is that all we employees demand to be given the statutory minimum wage. That will be social justice

Anonymous said...

I don't see the government as being at fault here. In fact one could say the government (for all its faults) is being brave by pushing through reforms that it knows are necessary but unpopular.

Doing nothing is not an option, and caving in to the unions is DEFINITELY not an option.

Greece is held hostage by unions far too often. They resist any and all change, and are driven solely by their own selfish demands, under the guise of socialist ideals.

The current situation reminds me of the UK during the Winter of Discontent 1978/1978 (the difference being, in the UK it was a one-off; in Greece these strikes happen regularly). The only good thing Thatcher did was defeat the unions and rein in their power.

The current situation in Greece is similar to the UK Miners' Strike 1984/1985 - a make-or-break test of government nerve. Quite simply, the government must win. The unions cannot be allowed to continue running Greece. Union members 'storming' board meetings, unions striking 'in solidarity' with other unions with unrelated grievances... these things do not happen in civilised countries.

Unions have abused their power and must be brought into line, otherwise nothing in Greece will ever EVER get better and it will remain an embarrassing banana republic where lawlessness prevails.

kukutsi said...

Hm so strikes equal lawlessness and banana republicness...Well you're right, in the UK where strikes are all but outlawed yes. However in Greece, lets face it, striking is still a civil right.
Now as to the question "are strikes and trade unions good or not?". Well I guess it depends who you are. I mean for Anonymous who wrote the above comment, they may be bad. However for workers, who can only exercise some measure of power on their working conditions and salaries and pensions(incidentally many of the pension funds that are the object of this new legislation are made up, to a large extent, of money that the workers themselves directly put into them and so taking them away is kind of illegal) through organizing themselves into groups... Well these groups, called trade unions, do not always function in an ideal manner, they may be imperfect in defending their members' interests, BUT... if you are an employee, then trust me, it's much better that they do exist and take action, rather than that they don't. Of course, if you belong to a different social group, you are also entitled to claim that all these various groups of people are ridiculously overprivileged and have no legal rights to their own savings, and then go home and dream about the iron will of Mrs. Thatcher.

Anonymous said...

In Greece people always talk about rights, rights, rights... and never about responsibilities. I never meant to imply that the stikes themselves equated lawlessness... lawlessness exists in Greece regardless of whether there are strikes or not.

Although, having said that, isn't the DEH strike continuing even though it's been declared illegal? That's lawless. And isn't every strike accompanied by a march through Athens, onto which molotov cocktail-throwing anarchists routinely attach themselves, always evading arrest? Where's the law enforcement there?

I agree with what you write about the importance of unions and the importance of the right to strike. But I believe that the right to strike must be used responsibly. I would never want Greek trade unions abolished and strikes outlawed... I only called for the unions to be reined in, instead of being allowed to run the country and obstruct whatever changes a government proposes regardless of their wider merit.

I cited the UK because it's where I live, but I don't necessarily think the UK way is right for Greece - in fact, I'm sure it isn't! Perhaps the best example is Germany, where strong unions exist - but because they behave much more responsibly and constructively, they are far more effective in achieving their aims.

CaliforniaKat said...

Very intelligent and balanced comments from Anonymous.

Pension reforms are certainly necessary because it's been mismanaged for a long time. That has to do with responsibility, not rights. There are also (in my humble opinion) very outdated requirements that don't reflect today. i.e. Retirement age of 50 for working mothers. That's ridiculous! Most women don't even work, and those that do can't really afford to retire at 50. There are millions of working mothers worldwide that don't retire at 50 because they enjoy working.

I also agree that pension reforms alone won't solve this. Collecting outstanding social security contributions could go a long way. Forcing those to pay up, then investing the money (again)responsibility could resolve a lot of deficit.

And while I agree with someone's civil right to protest or strike, I do not believe it's lawful to hold a country and its economy hostage. Plenty of people in the private sector still have to earn a living and, btw, are paying into the same social insurance fund without getting a day off.

In NYC, the Taylor Law forbids strikes by public sector employees because the city loses in excess of 1 billion a day. A metro strike alone affects 6 million people (more than half the population of GR), and those people handle who knows how much money worldwide. If a worker participates, (s)he is fined double his salary until returning to work.

I realize Athens is nowhere on the scale of NYC, and it never will be if this clown country doesn't get its circus contained under the big top.

Who can take this country seriously on a professional or trade level when this is allowed to fester?

I myself do not support these strikes because I and my fiance contributed good money to IKA over the years that we never intend to collect, as we'll be leaving the country. I'm also regularly discriminated against in all public sector offices, earn less for doing more work than they do, and therefore have no sympathy for people who deny me basic services for which I've paid hard earned money.