Greek unions are arguing the failure of previous austerity measures show the European Union should offer financial support to Greece without expecting officials to reform troublesome policies in return.
The Greek economic system has been in turmoil for years. In the hopes of helping the country out of trouble, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Commission have offered Greece financial bailouts with the expectation officials will take serious actions to reform troublesome policies. Despite playing a major role in preventing the reforms, unions argue the resulting failures show Greece should not have to makes changes like welfare and pension cuts.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) was among the labor groups applauding Greece citizens for rejecting the latest such deal Sunday in a referendum vote.
“The institutions must end their demands for further cuts in pensions and public services and continued destruction of labour market institutions in return for payments on loans they already approved,” ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said in a statement. “Instead, they should support a pro-growth investment and jobs programme in Greece.”
Prior to Greece rejecting the deal, the ITUC called the referendum vote a choice between maintaining vital public services like pension payments and paying international organizations responsible for the problems. This despite Greece being in severe debt with the European Commission and IMF.
As the British Journal of Industrial Relations noted, even when the government tried to do something to rein in benefits, unions have had the ability to mobilize workers, hold rallies and put significant political pressure to stop such reforms.
“Four years on, Greek reforms are advancing,” Yiannis Korkovelos, of the London School of Economics and Political Science, argued in a report. “Nevertheless, progress is still short of victory over the forces of lethargy and the ever present underlying political interests. Indeed, a myriad of bureaucratic problems combined with political and trade union interests have combined to impair ‘real’ change.”
The General Confederation of Greek Workers, an affiliate of ITUC, fought reforms through large protests. According to teleSUR the group was among several unions in November which canceled flights, closed public offices and critically disrupted internal transport with a nationwide strike.
According to the IMF, one of the most costly programs is pensions. The retirement plans account for around 17 percent of the country’s GDP.
The ITUC and its affiliate did not respond to a requests for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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