- Created: Thursday, 13 June 2013 12:48
- Written by Michael MacGregor
‘The strategy of the European Commission over the past year and a half or two has been to reduce the labour costs in all European countries in order to improve the competitiveness of European companies over the rivals from Eastern Europe and Asia’
Greek representative to the European Commission, Maria Damanaki
‘What I am afraid of is the tsunami of poor and homeless people who flood the hospital clinics every night, and you don’t have enough time to treat them. And most of all, they don’t have free medical care ... It is unacceptable and I cannot accept the idea that a person cannot have free medical care.’
Nurse Zoe Florou
As reports from Greece have consistently demonstrated, there is a deepening gulf between the interests of the capitalist banks and the interests of the Greek working class. The monthly tranches of the troika's bailout loan are not signed off until after the visits of its ‘tough supervision missions’, as German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble calls them. Greece is now the only EU country so far to deliver a fall in hourly labour costs in the private sector, driven down by 6.8% since 2011. 60% of under-25s are unemployed. Those fortunate enough to have a job face a 25% cut in the minimum wage from 740 euros to 510 euros per month. The rate for over-25s has been cut by 22.2%. There have been calls by Greek business leaders to abandon any minimum wage and consideration of a flat rate 250 euros per month for part-time work. And yet this is not enough. At the start of the European summit in Dublin in mid-March the president of the Eurozone’s group of finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, stated that Greece must 'speed up its efforts' to meet troika targets.