Summer Vacation Is Over: Greek Public Workers Begin Two-Day Strike

Summer Vacation Is Over: Greek Public Workers Begin Two-Day Strike

The (G)Reekovery, in which unemployment just rose to a new record high, must be so strong that the economy can easily afford another two days of lost output as virtually all public sector workers have decided to take another two day break from a grueling work schedule (one in which they used to get a week off just for using a computer) and go on strike. From WSJ: “Greek public servants began a two-day walkout Wednesday over plans to place government workers in a labor reserve that is widely seen as a step toward future layoffs. Teachers, hospital doctors and court officials, among others, participated in the walkout, leaving schools, courts and government offices closed across the country and hospitals operating on skeleton staff. On the streets of Athens, public sector unionists staged two separate demonstrations that brought about 10,000 protesters to the streets, according to police estimates.”

The protest, accompanied by similar demonstrations in other parts of Greece, was peaceful with no incidents of violence or arrests reported. Greece’s private sector umbrella union, GSEE, declared a four-hour work stoppage Wednesday in a show of support, while journalists also held a brief walkout.

“We are protesting against the labor reserve scheme, first of all, but also more generally against the government’s continued austerity policies that foresee layoffs in the public sector,” said Tania Karagiannis, spokeswoman for the civil servants umbrella union ADEDY.

The strike comes days before inspectors from the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank—known locally as the troika—are expected to arrive in Athens to review Greece’s performance in meeting the terms of its second bailout.

Under the terms of the bailout, Greece must place some 25,000 public workers in a so-called “mobility pool” by the end of this year, where they will receive reduced pay as they await transfers to other public-sector jobs. If nothing is found for them within eight months, they will be dismissed.

The government has also committed to laying off 15,000 public workers outright by the end of next year as part of an effort to shed underperforming civil servants and make the country’s bureaucracy operate more efficiently.

“Committed” but not actually fired. Which perhaps explains why not only is France about to miss its projected budget, why Italy announced earlier today it is “considering delaying its aim of achieving a balance budget in structural terms until 2014, a year later than the original target of this year” and that its debt would rise more than expected next year, and Spain debt just rose to a new record and why debt across the periphery in general continues to climb to new all time highs, and, in the case of Greece, is rising once again at a record pace.

In short: Europe’s “structural reforms” are working better than ever.

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