#LetGreeceBreathe – ACTU extends hand to Greek workers

Photograph by Arsineh Houspian.  +(61) 401 320 173.  arsineh@arsineh.com

Australian unions have pledged their support behind Greece’s labour and workforce, ahead of the country’s January 25 general election.

In a press release, ACTU President Ged Kearney said a number of unions have signed a solidarity statement urging European and international bodies to renegotiate and relax some of the measures put in place to fend of Greece’s debt.

“Australian Unions are urging the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission (the Troika) to negotiate in good faith with the new government that will be formed to cancel debt, allow it to restore workers’ right to collective bargaining, minimum wage pensions and support its efforts to rebuild the Greek economy on a fair and sustainable pathway,” Kearney said.

See full story from Neos Kosomos here

The move compliments the Australia-Greece Solidarity Campaign, with co-ordinator Adam Rorris pushing the Australian government to use its influence on the global stage to conjure immediate action.

Rorris told Neos Kosmos that change is required, and imminent, with crippling debt and austerity measures failing the country, despite slight economic growth at the end of last year.

“Our objective is to let people in Australia know (and more broadly if they’re interested) of the situation in Greece. We have a social media presence and collect any information that brings to light the real situation in Greece today (and) that has unfolded since the global financial crisis.

“We distribute information and meet with people who we feel would benefit from it which includes, parliamentarians, students and people from the trade union movement which has traditionally showed a concern for these issues.”

Rorris admits the Solidarity Movement’s political and support for a debt ‘haircut’ are more in line with Greece’s radical-leftist Syriza party which is currently leading the polls one day out from the election, but denies any strict formal affiliation between the two bodies.

“It became very clear that there was significant opposition developing in Greece to the politics of the government in relation to the debt and the economics and social policy. When it became obvious that there was a viable alternative that of course made a solidarity campaign also more attractive and viable.”

This weekend’s election is touted by commentators as one of Greece’s most important in modern history, with Greeks faced with the option of radical change courtesy of pledges made by Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, or continue down its current path, which saw the economy grow slightly at the end of 2014. However, despite the minimal growth, Rorris believes the status quo cannot be sustained.

“Statisticians and economists will often tell you of the well known effect known as the ‘dead cat bounce’. If you throw a cat off a cliff, it’s a sharp fall, but you get a bit of a bump at the end because the cat’s hit the ground. Something like that is happening in the case of Greece.”

“When you get a levelling off of that decline that doesn’t signal a great achievement, the descent has now plateaued and you’ve seen some minimal growth at a very low base, which is hardly a recovery. There’s no prospects of sustained recovery, because you cannot expect an economy to grow when you’ve savaged the very incomes that will give people purchasing power.”

Accordingly, the Solidarity Movement has been widely supported by Greek Australians who are “horrified” with Greece’s economic and social collapse. Rorris says a “haircut” is required and inevitable, considering that the large sum of money lent to the country cannot be sustainably paid back, and says talks of a pending ‘Grexit’ from the eurozone is simply “scaremongering”.

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