‘Austerity’ means worldwide sweatshop labour

This 2011 video is called A Greek family affected by the economic crisis.

Another video used to say about itself:

Families Crumble In Greece’s Economic Crisis

Jason Farrell, Sky News correspondent, in Athens

Seventy-year-old Eletharias cannot afford to go the supermarket any more, so for the past few months he has started rummaging for food in dustbins.

He goes out in Athens at night so that no one sees. When Sky News met him, he was collecting onions from some wheelie bins.

“Since my pension was cut, I can’t buy food so I look through the garbage,” he said, “I can only pray that things get better.”

He is among an increasing number of pensioners who have slipped into desperate poverty and rely on waste food to survive.

Eletharias, 77, tells Sky News he can no longer afford to shop in the supermarket.

Irini Gkana, 77, and 80-year-old Argyro Hadri-Sotiraki get their sustenance from a downtown soup kitchen.

On her way out of the complex, Irini stooped to pick up an apple lying on the pavement and squirreled it into her trolley bag.
Life has not always been like this but the debt crisis has left them unable to provide for themselves for the first time since they were war children.

“It is like during the war, we just can’t afford to buy what we need,” says Argvro. “The soup kitchen reminds me of the Nazi occupation in 1941.”

Irini agrees, adding: “The hunger.”

The young are also falling through the cracks of this economic crisis. Hundreds of children are now being looked after by SOS centres because their parents can no longer support them.

Just outside of Athens Sky News met a group of six children. Three had come from one family, the other three from different parents.
They had become a new family looked after by an employed SOS mother called Litza.

When we arrived Litza was serving up a lunch of fried lung and lemon potatoes.

SOS youth worker Pavlos Salichos told Sky News that demand for the charity’s assistance had increased by 75% in two years.

“There are many social factors – alcoholism, drugs and abuse – but the primary cause is economic,” he said.

“If you have both parents who are unemployed, they can become desperate and there is a psychological trauma for them too because they have to go to social services and tell them that they can’t support their children anymore.”

Greece is struggling to support itself. There are no official figures but according to people in the trade an increasing number of women are turning to prostitution.

As she touted for business on the streets, Anita, told Sky News she regularly checks herself for infection but she, like most sex workers, is not signed up to Greece’s prostitution licensing system. She is unregulated, making her more vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.

Rough sleeping has also risen by 25%.

Pro-Big Business so-called “reforms” mean going back to the days of Charles Dickens.

By Stefan Steinberg:

EU, IMF demand lower wages, longer hours in Greece

6 September 2012

Days before sending financial inspectors to Greece, the troika—the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund—sent a letter to key ministries in Athens, demanding fundamental changes to Greek labour law.

The letter calls for frontal attacks on basic rights of the Greek working class and for drastic “reforms” in every aspect of working life. Amongst the proposals made in the letter are the following:

*Increased flexibility in work schedules, in particular an “increase in the number of maximum workdays to six days per week for all sectors”.

*Decreasing the minimum period between work shifts to 11 hours and eliminating further restrictions on shift work.

*Slashing Greece’s monthly minimum wage—already cut this year to €586, or US$736—and carrying out corresponding wage cuts in the private sector.

The letter cynically implies that these attacks, which entail new wage cuts and a drastic increase in working times, are necessary to create jobs: “Unemployment is too high, and policies are needed to prevent it from becoming structural.”

In fact the current record level of 30 percent unemployment in Greece is a direct result of austerity measures imposed by the troika. Now the same bagmen for the international finance elite are demanding that the minimum wage be reduced further to a pittance. The aim is to force the army of unemployed in Greece to accept the most degrading of jobs paying poverty wages.

The letter also calls for new powers for employers to facilitate sacking workers. Companies are to be allowed to reduce the period of notice before firing workers and to cut severance packages by up to 50 percent by arbitrarily reducing workers’ time in service. Employers will also be allowed to stipulate the holiday times taken by the many Greek workers employed in the tourism industry.

The measures proposed by the troika are incompatible with existing Greek labour legislation. In order to evade legal hurdles, the troika also proposes that Greece’s labour inspectorate be placed under European supervision.

While working conditions are to be decimated, the troika letter calls for further tax cuts for companies. The letter calls for non-wage labour costs to be lowered by permitting employers to reduce their contributions to pension and health insurance funds, plus additional forms of tax relief.

Commenting on the troika proposals, Panagiotis Sotiris from the University of the Aegean said: “I think we are going to see a total dismantling of labour law which would possibly even include a 7-day work week. It’s also interesting that they are trying to reduce the number of hours between shifts to only 11 hours. The idea is that an employer can call up an employee at any time, giving the employee no stability of working hours.”

Sotiris also noted that the troika “wants a dismantling of the labour inspectorate, which is the public service responsible for implementing labour law. So it’s not only about making the labour market more flexible.”

Moves to lengthen the workweek come after the release of an OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation) report revealing that the average Greek employee already works longer hours (2,017 hours per year) than in any other European country.

This latest assault on the rights of the Greek working class is an integral part of plans to return across Europe to the working conditions that prevailed in capitalist countries in the nineteenth century. Last weekend the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, called for the setting up of special economic zones (SEZs) in Greece to attract investors with low or no taxes. The goal is to create conditions for the super-exploitation of workers that are common in Chinese and other East Asian SEZs.

From daily News Line in Britain:

A LEAKED email sent to the Greek Ministries of Finance and Labour from the Troika mafia in Brussels says Greek private sector workers must be made to work six days a week and work 13-hour days.

From On the News With Thom Hartmann in the USA:

The world’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, who was born into a wealthy mining family, is suggesting that Australia should be considering paying workers a $2 a day wage …

As Rinehart explained, “The evidence is unarguable that Australia is indeed becoming too expensive and too uncompetitive to do export- orientated business…Africans want to work. Its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day.” Aside from the tinge of racism in her comments, they’re also completely uninformed. Just a few weeks ago, African miners were slaughtered while they were on strike demanding higher wages – including a $1500 monthly minimum wage – which is well above Rinehart’s call for $2 a day. But her comments speak to something bigger – they reveal how the billionaire class thinks. They don’t think of workers as humans beings trying to live a decent life – they think of them as numbers on a spreadsheet. Gina Rinehart would have felt right at home at last week’s RNC.

20 thoughts on “‘Austerity’ means worldwide sweatshop labour

  1. Yes, blogged this myself yesterday. Saw a report on Sky News (sorry I was at the gym and couldn’t turn it off!) with some wanky self-styled expert saying ‘Perhaps if we scrapped the minimum wage for young people it would help get them into work…’
    What’s the situation in the Netherlands?


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