Greece: General strike with a silver lining – even the taxman’s walked out…(IRS…Quit Now!!!)
SATURDAY 22 SEPTEMBER 2012
If you wanted to get a hip replacement, file for divorce or pay your taxes in Greece this week, you were out of luck as unions staged a series of strikes in key services to protest against a new round of painful cuts being hammered out to secure the next round of eurozone bail-out cash.
Politicians in the coalition government have been locked behind closed doors all week, first with inspectors from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, and then with each other as they try to scrape together the deep cuts needed to stop the country going bankrupt.
Most of the striking workers – from tax officers to university professors – oppose looming salary cuts which are included in the austerity package that is meant to save Greece at least €11.5bn (£9.2bn) over the next two years. More than half of the cuts will come from cutting wages, pensions and social benefits again, a finance ministry official confirmed. But Athens has yet to agree on the entirety of the austerity programme, which could threaten the release of a €31.5bn tranche the country needs to avoid debt default and stay in the euro.
“The negotiations are difficult,” the Finance Minister, Yannis Stournaras, said this week, in reference to talks with representatives of the EU and IMF. “We’re doing everything possible to minimise the social cost, especially for the lower income groups.”