Austerity measures are “without a human face”

Since 2010, organized labour in Greece has embarked on forty separate nationwide strike actions to register the depth of disapproval of austerity measures.

The Greek government, recognizing that it was unable to repay its debt revealed by the economic crisis, requested an initial loan of 45 billion euros from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to cover its financial needs for the remaining part of 2010. Three organizations, the European Commission on behalf the EU, the European Central bank and the IMF, together known as the “Troika”, started to have a powerful influence on Greece’s independence. In exchange for a loan, the Greek government had to agree a severe programme of public service cuts and privatizations set out in a ‘Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies’ and a ‘Memorandum on Specific Economic Policy Conditionality’. These measures were voted into law by the Greek Parliament on May 5, 2010.

According to Odysseas Drivalas, President of ADEDY (a federation of public service unions in Greece), the austerity measures are “without human face” hence the absence of social dialogue and clear anti-labour policies intended to destabilize trade unions in the Greek society.

In the words of Drivalas “the austerity measures that have been churned out by the Greek government is rapidly turning into a humanitarian crisis. It is therefore not surprising that all over Europe, Greece has the highest rate of youth unemployment.”

He said that in Greece public sector employees are suffering severe income loss at a very fast pace.

“ADEDY and the Greek organized labour disapproves these unfortunate hardship being bestowed  on the Greek society hence the declaration of 40 strike actions ever since the government through parliament  committed itself to inhuman memorandum with the Troika ”, the ADEDY President opined.

ADEDY officials expressed these concerns to the General Secretary PSI, Rosa Pavanelli and participants of the PSI Communicators’ Action Network. The PSI and affiliate representatives were in Greece to document the country’s numerous challenges.

PSI’s General Secretary expressed PSI’s commitment to safeguarding public institutions all over the world. She said PSI is engaged with international financial institutions and donor countries to combat the privatization of public enterprises globally.

She said that entrenching democratic rules will eventually culminate in the social cohesion that will enable the general populace to go about their daily endeavours with a free mind.

By Jerry Detse Mensah-Pah, HSWU, Ghana