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PORTSIDELABOR  November 2012, Week 1

PORTSIDELABOR November 2012, Week 1

Subject:

Protesting Greek Unions Target Austerity Skeptics in Two-Day Strike

From:

Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Tue, 6 Nov 2012 21:15:32 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (116 lines)

Protesting Greek Unions Target Austerity Skeptics in Two-Day Strike

The Associated Press 
Published Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 7:07AM EST 
http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/protesting-greek-unions-target-austerity-skeptics-in-two-day-strike-1.1026092#ixzz2BULxkd5g

ATHENS, Greece -- Thousands marched through Athens
Tuesday as trade unions held their third general strike
in six weeks, in the run-up to a parliamentary vote on
a new austerity program that will condemn Greece to
more years of hardship in exchange for the money it
needs to avoid going bankrupt.

Flights to and from the country stopped at 10:00 a.m.
(0800GMT) at the start of a 48-hour strike that has
already closed schools, halted train and ferry
services, left Athens without public transport or taxis
and state hospitals running on emergency staff only.

An estimated 10,000 supporters of a communist-backed
trade union kicked off two days of demonstrations,
which will culminate when lawmakers vote late Wednesday
on a (EURO)13.5 billion ($17.3 billion) package of
spending cuts and tax increases over the next two
years.

The outcome of the vote is far from certain, due to
disagreements in the five-month-old coalition
government and a reluctance among centre-left lawmakers
to swallow yet another bitter austerity pill. But an
anti-austerity vote would almost certainly force Greece
to default on its mountain of debt, potentially paving
the way to the country's exit from the euro.

Greece's two main unions are holding a separate protest
march later Tuesday. Police are on alert for potential
violence, as most major anti-austerity protests over
the past three years have degenerated into riots.

This is the biggest crisis Conservative Prime Minister
Antonis Samaras has faced since he formed the coalition
in June: His small Democratic Left coalition partner
has said it will not back the measures, while a handful
of lawmakers from the third coalition party, the
Socialists, are expected to rebel.

The government combined has 176 of Parliament's 300
seats, and needs an absolute majority of those present
to pass the bill. Without the Democratic Left, Samaras'
conservatives and the Socialists theoretically control
160 votes -- barring dissenters.

The main opposition Radical Left Coalition has urged
demonstrators to surround Parliament during Wednesday
night's vote.

"The new measures must not pass for they will turn the
country into a financial and social desert," a party
statement said. "They will lead us decades back,
without medicine or state healthcare, without schools
and universities, without a future, with endless armies
of unemployed, suicides and desperate people."

The deeply unpopular measures include new deep pension
cuts and tax hikes, a two-year increase in the
retirement age to 67, and laws that will make it easier
to fire and transfer civil servants. The country is
suffering a deep recession set to enter a sixth year,
and record high unemployment of 25 per cent.

If Parliament rejects the package, Greece will lose
access to the rescue loans from the European Union and
International Monetary Fund that have kept it afloat
since May 2010.

The country would then run out of money -- as soon as
by Nov. 16, according to Samaras -- default on its
debts and, most likely, abandon the 17-member eurozone.
The ensuing hyperinflation and currency depreciation
would intensify domestic misery.

The international repercussions would also be severe,
amid fears that other troubled eurozone members could
follow Greece's lead.

Sky-high interest rates have kept Greece out of
international bond markets since 2010. However, the
country retains a market presence through regular
short-term debt issues -- mostly bought up by domestic
lenders that need the paper as collateral for vital
European financing.

On Tuesday, Athens raised (EURO)1.3 billion ($1.6
billion) in a 26-week treasury bill auction, that saw
Greek borrowing costs ease slightly to 4.41 per cent,
from 4.46 per cent last month. The issue was 1.7 times
oversubscribed.

____________________________________________

PortsideLabor aims to provide material of interest to
people on the left that will help them to interpret the
world and to change it.

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