Solidarity Initiative to People that Resist in Greece – Brussels
DEMONSTRATION – Thursday, May 20
12:30 Schuman Roundabout
Protest in front of the European Council and Commission, the Permanent Represantation of Greece, the European Banking Federation and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association – Ending in Square de Meeûs
IMF GO HOME!
The austerity and restructuring measures that are being imposed to Greek citizens as a condition for the IMF – Euro zone loan are set to dismantle the country’s social infrastructures. Those are already in poor condition due to the prolonged implementation of austerity measures and clientelism cultivated by the successive Greek governments
The entry of Greece in the monetary union in 2002 sparked an increase in prices of goods to the same levels as in Belgium, while wages are half those received in Belgium; thus, the purchasing power of the average Greek consumer is currently lower than the average in the EU-27. When the cost of living is almost the same as in Belgium, the majority of young people working in Greece earn only EUR 700 (the same stands for University graduates), while 40% of young people are unemployed.
The IMF – Euro zone program reduces the basic wage for young people to around EUR 600. Using as an excuse the “privileges enjoyed by the public sector employees” (which constitute only 20% of the workforce and already receive lower salaries than their colleagues in the rest of Europe), they abolish the 13th and 14th salaries (thus reducing the annual income of an average employee with decades of service from EUR 22,000 to EUR 19,000). It also abolishes the 13th and 14th pension for all private and public servants. The new austerity measures will severly affect private sector employees, as wages will freeze, while the VAT rate is simultaneously increasing (from 19% to 21% already, further increase to 23% currently considered by the government). Clear intentions have been displayed towards the abolishment of the collective fixed term employment contracts. The recent pieces of legislation bring a massive increase of legal limits of discharges. On top of this, there are thousands of public and private sector employees in Greece who have not received any salaries for several months now under the pretext of the financial crisis.
Public funds spent on health and education services keep shrinking, and currently they amount to a smaller portion of the state budget than that employed to serve the repayment of the debt interest. It is estimated that the IMF – Euro zone loan will increase the debt of Greece from 125% to 150%, driving the country’s economy into a long-lasting recession. The deterioration of the existing social policy, health and education standards will have devastating consequences for the decades to come. If the proposed austerity measures are implemented, the future generations in Greece will be radically poorer than their parents, both in a material and cultural sense. This is what happened in other countries where the IMF intervened (e.g. Hungary).
It is an outrageous and enslaving loan (5.5% interest charged by the Euro zone) that aims in dismantling any sense of social cohesion and solidarity. It is the result of continuous blackmail from the monopoly of the three main evaluation houses (Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, Fitch). Hardly any government in the world can efficiently react once it has been purposefully targeted by these agencies.
This loan has not been offered in order to help Greek people service their debt; it has been elaborated in order to rescue the banks and save at all costs the common currency even if this has to be done at the expense of the people.
The destructive policy currently implemented by the Greek government must be avoided by other European countries, such as Spain, Ireland, Portugal and also Belgium. In Belgium in particular, under the pretext of linguistic differences, the plan to dismantle the welfare state is already underway.
Who we are – What do we want
This initiative is led by a group of Greeks living and working in Belgium, accompanied in their efforts by people of various nationalities residing in Belgium; people who understand the importance of the current struggle in Greece, and the implications it will have in future social rights policies in Europe and the world.
By means of this initiative we want to voice the following:
- Our Solidarity to strikers and demonstrators in Greece
- Our Denunciation of government state repression: the violence used by the police against people protesting peacefully for their rights, the undercover police and para-state groups that mingle in the demonstrations in order to tarnish them.
- Our Repugnance for the crime that led to three people losing their lives during the demonstration of May 5th, a crime of which the perpetrators remain unknown. It is only fair that the owners of the Bank where the incident took place bear part of the responsibility, since the building breached all safety regulations.
- Our conviction that there is a viable alternative to the IMF loan: it is the Renegotiation of the Greek debt, on the basis of safeguarding the standards of living both in Greece and throughout Europe and not the profits of banks.
- The need for Defence of Public Services and Social Rights
- The demand for the crisis to be paid by the ones who provoked it and then benefited from governmental financial aid, i.e. the private banks.
- The call for Democratic control over banks
- The need to Regain democratic control and people’s sovereignty over monetary policy
HANDS OFF SOCIAL CONQUESTS IN GREECE AND EUROPE!
PAN EUROPEAN SOLIDARITY AND STRUGGLE!