End destructive austerity, in Greece and Britain


This video says about itself:

Cleaning Ladies First Winners in New Anti Austerity Greece

28 January 2015

ATHENS: The reinstatement of the cleaning ladies at Greece’s Finance Ministry was perhaps the most symbolic measure announced by the new anti-austerity government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday.

In news greeted with tears, the women were told they could return to their jobs that were cut in September 2013, as the radical new government began rolling back money-saving measures.

“We’ve got justice. We were nothing more than mere numbers for the troika but we showed courage and determination,” said one of the women, Katerina Kapodistria, employing the terms Greeks use for its creditors the IMF, EU and the European Central Bank.

The protest by what was originally 600 cleaning ladies became one of the emblems of the austerity years in Greece, as they camped outside the ministry in central Athens during burning summer days and chilly winter evenings, their mops and buckets visible for all to see.

Several times they clashed with security forces as discontent spilled over into violence on the streets.

The women’s cause struck a chord with the Greek public and it has even been reported that left-wing British director Ken Loach has contacted them about turning their epic struggle into a film.

The radical Syriza party made the women one of its cause celebres – and on Wednesday, after being swept into government in place of the unpopular conservatives of New Democracy, it kept its promise to put the women back to work.

By Jeremy Corbyn in Britain:

The thirst for an end to austerity is growing

Thursday 29th January 2015

The Greek example shows people are fed up with being told ‘there is no alternative,’ writes Jeremy Corbyn

At Prime Minister’s questions this week I asked David Cameron if he’d congratulated new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the election results and if he thought there were any lessons to be learned from the Greek people’s clear rejection of austerity politics.

As ever, the Prime Minister waffled on, claiming that Britain was going through a period of great economic success.

The imposition of austerity and privatisation in Greece have led to unemployment rates of more than 25 per cent, the destruction of public services and the privatisation of many pubic assets — largely being snapped up by foreign-owned finance institutions.

Just ahead of Sunday’s dramatic election there was a huge flight of capital by the very rich who feared the new government would start collecting the taxes they have routinely avoided for many years.

Negotiations with the European Central Bank and the European Union are going to be very tough so it’s essential that the left across Europe supports the democratic wishes of the Greek people which point to a very different political path than the one of austerity that has been so devastating there and across Europe.

It’s worth remembering that austerity politics enriches the already wealthy and restructures society into something more resembling pre-war Britain, rolling back the gains made since the introduction of the welfare state.

While Britain is not a member of the euro, it is clear that the austerity strategy promoted by new Labour and later by the coalition — capping welfare spending and slashing local government and most central government departments — has resulted in public-sector job losses and their replacement with low-paid and often zero-hours contract positions.

As Dennis Skinner pointed out to the Prime Minister, the biggest queues in Britain are at foodbanks, and this has to change.

Last week a number of Labour MPs signed a three-point public policy statement calling for the Labour Party to rethink its economic strategy.

Wages have fallen 8 per cent in real terms since 2010. Unemployment is still two million and household debt is over £2 trillion and rising.

The Tory answer is further cuts and reducing the benefit cap still further.

If the Tories are re-elected there is every expectation that poverty will get worse and the foodbanks will become a way of existence for hundreds of thousands more people.

Our statement calls for a £30 billion investment package, through the publicly owned banks, to help investment and therefore job creation.

A touchstone for the failure of privatisation is the railways.

Since their privatisation, the public subsidy for the rail network has gone up by 300 per cent to £1.2bn a year. Since 2010 rail fares have increased by 25 per cent.

Investment in the rail infrastructure is made by Network Rail, which borrows heavily to do so — and that is a public debt.

Network Rail is wholly government owned and therefore its profitability or otherwise is a matter of public concern.

However the big money on railways is made through the train operating companies, the sub contracts and the leasing companies.

Only last week Everholt Leasing, which owns a large proportion of the trains, was sold to a number of overseas banks.

East Coast Main Line was created by Direct Rail, a publicly owned arm of Network Rail after the previous franchise collapsed.

The coalition in its death throes is about to hand a long-term franchise to a consortium, including Virgin Trains, to take over this lucrative route.

The public fully understands that their investment in the railway network has made a lot of the private sector extremely wealthy on the back of public investment and rip-off fares.

The case for public ownership is absolutely overwhelming and should be seized with both hands by the Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn is Labour MP for Islington North.

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