Main Greek union calls general strike on November 6-7
ATHENS – Agence France Presse
Greece’s main union to called a 48-hour general strike for November 6-7 in protest at a new wave of austerity measures unveiled by the government in order to unlock EU-IMF bailout loans, AFP reported.
“The central aim and demand of the unions is the rejection (by parliament) of unacceptable, destructive and coercive measures imposed by the troika,” the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) said in a statement, referring to the EU, IMFand European Central Bank.
[As countries across the world sink deeper into capitalist crisis, and relief, though promised, only leads to more “austerity” measures–cuts in basic services, growing unemployment, higher taxes–growing numbers have moved to the “informal”, “underground”, “grey market” economy, outside of official and governmental review, regulation, and control. In many countries this amounts to one-third to one-half of the economy. This article about the underground economy in Portugal traces such growth in response to official crisis and bankruptcy. — Frontlines ed.]
By Mario Queiroz
LISBON, Jan 28, 2012 (IPS) – The underground economy in Portugal is booming thanks to the steep increases in taxation and prices demanded by a “troika” of international creditors to address the country’s economic crisis.
In May 2011, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union (EU) and the European Central Bank (ECB) loaned Portugal the equivalent of 103 billion dollars as a financial rescue package.
In return, the troika imposed draconian conditions on middle- and lower-income sectors of the population, and headed by the IMF took on a supervisory role over this southern European country’s economy.
Sheer survival instinct among those most affected by the austerity measures is driving them further into the parallel economy, which according to recent official figures amounted to 24.8 percent of GDP in 2010.
And it is continuing to grow, owing to the severe economic crisis from which there seems to be no way out, a study from the Faculty of Economics of the University of Porto concludes. Continue reading →
Hundreds of thousands of working people rallied in Lisbon and Porto on Saturday to demand that the government put social justice before bankers’ profits.
The General Confederation of Portuguese Workers organised the protests “against impoverishment and injustice, against the aggression by the International Monetary Fund.”
Trade unionists and their allies took to the streets in force on the same day that a tax on electricity and gas bills rose from 6 to 23 per cent.
Speaking in Lisbon, CGTP secretary-general Manuel Carvalho da Silva said: “When they attack our rights, when poverty and injustice are growing, then our struggle has to be generalised, it has to be everyone’s struggle.”
The government insists it has no choice but to hack back workers’ rights and sell off state property to fulfil the conditions of a €78 billion (£67bn) loan it negotiated with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in May.
Lisbon, Portugal (CNN) — An estimated 3 million workers walked off the job Wednesday in Portugal’s first general strike in 22 years, a protest against austerity measures imposed by a government under market pressure to cut spending.
Portugal says it will cut its budget deficit to 7.3 percent of its gross domestic product by the end of 2010 by trimming public salaries by 5 percent, raising value-added taxes from 21 to 23 percent, and reducing pension benefits and other government spending. But with unemployment at 10.9 percent, the country’s two largest unions argue that the ruling Socialists’ austerity measures will only make things worse.
“We have got 200,000 people in a population of around 10 million who are in soup kitchens,” said Aquino Noronha, a flight steward who joined Wednesday’s walkout. “This cannot go on. What we feel, those of us who are on strike, is it’s only the workers who have to pay for this.”
Similar austerity measures provoked new protests by students in Britain and have unions calling for massive weekend demonstrations in Ireland, where Prime Minister Brian Cowen announced another round of budget cuts Wednesday.
Though many stores and restaurants in Lisbon remained open, the strike shut down the country’s airports, rail stations and buses and snarled traffic around the capital. At the Cais do Sodre transit station on the city’s waterfront, subway and commuter trains, ferry boats and buses were few and far between — and some commuters said their morning trips were extended by an hour or more.
Portugal’s two largest unions estimated that 3 million of their 5 million members joined the strike. The government said the turnout was smaller than unions claimed, but admitted it was a broad-based action. Continue reading →