Resistance against austerity ‘is a stamina test’

ADEDY President Odysseus Dravalas and General Secretary Ermolaos Kasses

The unnecessary chaos being wrought on the people of Greece by its government and international lenders was summed up by a government minister, a leading trade unionist said today.

Odysseus Dravalas, president of the Greek public sector umbrella union Adedy, said ministers had proposed further cuts to pensions on the same day as admitting it was doing nothing to combat tax evasion and avoidance.

With billions of euros lost to the Greek economy every year, it would make economic sense to invest in revenue collection.

But Dravalas said the government had “dismantled” tax inspection.

As a result, while proposing to cut already meagre pension provision, the minister of economy and finance admitted only two of the 53,000 people who have transferred money overseas had had their tax affairs audited in the last three years, Dravalas said.

“Our political system favours interests that are able to evade taxes and the government has failed to take any action,” he added.

Speaking as Adedy officials were preparing for the next general strike on Wednesday 6 November, general secretary Kasses Ermis said the economic crisis had demonstrated “corruption of our government and vested interests in public life”.

The spending cuts and restructuring demanded by the “troika” of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission will not be achieved by sacking civil servants, he said.

“They could combat tax evasion,” Ermis said. “But their policies are economically ineffective and socially unfair.”

Pledging unions were committed to fighting against imposed austerity measures, on the eve of another round of troika talks in Athens, he added: “This is a stamina test.”

With familiar echoes of the situation in the UK, Dravalas said negotiation with the government in Greece was non-existent, even though there were meetings with ministers.

Unions would tell ministers how unfair their policies were only to be told that was what they were required to do under the terms of the bail-outs.

“This is the extent of dialogue in Greece,” he added.

Because the troika has demanded privatisation of public services as well as massive budget cuts, Dravalas predicted that when the economic crisis was over “what will remain for Greek citizens will be chaos”.

“Trade unions are obliged to fight and should resist now before it is too late,” he concluded.

By Richard Simcox, PCS, UK