Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Greece's Workers Don't Like Being Pulled Off the Public Teat

The Greek economy is in shambles and the government can't pay its bills, so its parliament has enacted some austerity measures that pissed off the Greeks so much they rioted, killing 3 people.

Under terms of the bailout deal, Greece's government has announced a €30 billion package of measures that will slash public-sector wages, cut pensions, freeze public- and private-sector pay and liberalize Greece's labor laws. In addition, Greece has pledged to raise taxes—including a two-percentage-point increase in Greece's top value-added tax rate, to 23%—and to increase excise taxes for fuel, tobacco and alcohol.

The proposals met with stiff resistance Wednesday. Protesters and police clashed in front of parliament and fought running street battles at various points around the city. Demonstrators set fire to a media van from a Turkish television crew and burned two private vehicles and a fire truck.

It's like the children have been running Greece for too long and now the grownups are having to take over and administer some nasty medicine. The only problem is, when your entire country is on the dole, it's hard to get them to accept the unpleasant fact that there's no endless supply of money and that somebody has to get off their ass and make some dough to pay for things.
Wednesday's 24-hour general strike hobbled government services across Greece, shutting ministries and public offices. State hospitals and public utilities were operating with skeleton staff. Shopkeepers joined the strike at midday local time, while journalists, bank workers, teachers, court workers, lawyers and doctors also walked off the job. All flights in and out of Greek airports were canceled, while rail and ferry operations nationwide have been suspended.

It's a good thing nobody needed to go anywhere today.