In a very in-depth article published in Defend Democracy Press, Leonidas Vatikiotis gives a very detailed account of the measures included in the so-called ‘pre-requisites’ (equivalent to a new Memorandum) passed by 153 MPs of the Greek Parliament (in an overall number of 300) on May 18th. This is the 3rd Memorandum in a row voted by the MPs of SYRIZA and ANEL, after the agreement of August 2015 and the ‘new measures’ introduced in May 2016.
We reproduce here some of the most relevant passages of Vatikiotis’ report (please find the link to the whole report below).
SYRIZA’s promise to restore collective bargaining had the same fate as… the torn Memoranda: “From 21.8.2018, the institutional framework of collective bargaining returns to the status laid down in 1876/1990 (A’27),” as mentioned in the explanatory report.
The measures to mitigate the effects of collective redundancies as advertised by SYRIZA (“amounts for coverage of self-insurance, amounts available through corporate social responsibility for training and consultancy”) are indeed contained in Article 17, with the title “Control of collective redundancies”. But these are measures that “the employer may bring into the attention of the employees”. He may, he may not! As they could do in the past without SYRIZA’s fourth memorandum.
The opinions of the Supreme Labour Council, are not binding. The Explanatory report of the 4th Memorandum states that “the negative reasoned decision of the SLC due to the non-fulfillment of the relevant conditions is a presumption of nullity of the redundancies before the civil courts,” and nothing more. Meaning it does not have a binding character!
The bad news for collective redundancies are apparent from the very first lines of the explanatory report, which states that the proposed provision takes into consideration “the recent judgment of the EU Court, (Heracles General Cement Company -AGET Heracles- against Ministry of Labor, Social Security And Social Solidarity) C-201/15 of December 21st 2016, which amends the legislative framework for the control of collective redundancies for the purpose of harmonizing national law with EU law”. The decision was interpreted as opening a “window” in order to facilitate the dismissal of 236 workers from the factory of Chalkis, as requested by the French multinational (Lafarge, owner of AGET Heracles), introducing a more flexible interpretation of the Greek law which was clearly much more pro-labour than the European. That is why Lafarge had appealed to the European Court, challenging Greek law.
As far as the lock-out is concerned, what matters is the complaint filed by the Spokesman of the Union of Judges and Prosecutors in the Parliament on May 16th which argues that Article 20 which is contained in Part B (“Work Regulations”) of the Memorandum, brings through the back door the lock-out… which SYRIZA supposedly did not allow to be introduced! Nor the government, or the creditors and their mouthpieces did not breathe a word about this revelation. The retrograde is also confirmed by the amendment of paragraphs 1 and 2 in Article 5 of Law 1264/82, which explicitly and categorically stated that: it is prohibited to recruit strike-breakers and lock-outs are forbidden! These articles were amended. In other words, they ceased to be binding for the employers as it was until May 18th, at least at a typical level.
As regards to the trade union leaves (article 19) they set up a single framework that that uniformly regulates the paid and unpaid leaves.”
Measures Deepening Poverty
“Direct impact on disposable income of citizens, namely deepening poverty, will be brought by seven measures:
- Reduction in pensions
The so-called personal difference between primary and supplementary pensions came into the government’s target, with the reduction reaching even 18% of the paid pension. In absolute numbers, the reduction will reach an average of 185 euros per month and in some cases up to 300 euros, while it is expected to affect about 1.35 million pensioners.
In the first line of fire will be the pensioners from the former TEVE (Self-employed Insurance Agency), retired doctors, lawyers, engineers and pharmacists, double-pensioners, etc. The measure will be applied from January 1, 2019.
- Reduction of the tax-free income
This measure, which according to Minister of Economy Eykl. Tsakalotos would be the reason of his resignation if passed, will be applied on 1 January 2020 and is expected to burden each family with an average of 600 euros per year. The new tax-free income threshold, which will exclusively hit the poor, will be as follows:
1,250 euros (from 1.900 euros) for taxpayers with no children
1,300 euros (from 1.950 euros) for taxpayers with 1 protected child
1,350 euros (from 2.000 euro) for taxpayers with 2 protected children
1,450 euros (from 2,100) for taxpayers with 3 or more protected children
The savings to the State budget or else the cost that the pensioners will pay from the pension cuts in 2019 amount to 2.26 billion EUR and the cost that the taxpayers will pay from the drastic reduction in the tax-free income starting in 2020, is EUR 1.92 billion.
3.Increase in insurance contributions
Article 58 provides that as from 1/1/2018 insurance contributions of freelancers and the self-employed will be calculated on the monthly income, including contributions. This is an unprecedented robbery – a confession of the failure of EFKA (Single Social Security Institution), as contributions will be calculated on non-existent income! According to calculations made by experts, the consequent increase, in relation to the current year, may reach up to 37%!”
- Reductions in special wage regimes
- Reduction of grants to municipalities and regions
“Based on Article 8OA, from January 1st 2018 the total amount to be transferred annually from the regular budget to Municipalities and Regions must not exceed € 3.4 billion. This decision is justified as follows: since the municipalities managed to draw up and implement balanced budgets, they do not need the Central Independent Resources! Therefore, it is obvious where this famous ” financial independence ” of the municipalities leads: to the gradual withdrawal of the State from funding and the transferring the cost on the citizens’ backs.”
6. Taxation of short-term tenancy of real-estate in the context of sharing economy”
In the 4th Memorandum it is provided the disposal “from the date of registration of the statute of the the Public Holding Company to the General Commercial Registry Service, ipso jure and without any compensation, from the State Asset Development Fund (TAIPED), to the Public Holding Company the ownership rights, rights of management and exploitation, acquired financial interests, intangible rights as well as rights of operation, maintenance and exploitation of infrastructure that had been transferred to TAIPED”. Consequently, everything is passed to the Super-fund of sell-out!
In addition, the following twelve legal entities pass immediate to the above mentioned Superfund: OASA (Athens Public Transport Organisation) and its affiliates (OSY SA and STASY SA), OSE SA (Railway Organization), OAKA (Olympic Athletic Center of Athens), ELTA (Hellenic Posts), International Airport, Greek Saltworks, ETVA INDUSTRY CORPORATE COURT, Corinth Canal SA, Central Market And Fisheries Organization, Thessaloniki Central Market, TIF – HELEXPO and Duty Free Shops.
By December 31st, 2017, 66% of DEPA’s (Public Gas Corporation) shares of DESFA’s (Management of National System of Natural Gas) share capital must be sold, through international tender carried out by TAIPED.”
“Countermeasures: Sugaring the Pill of Surpluses
The Government attempted to sweeten the pill of the new memorandum and the bleeding of workers and pensioners by promising a package of measures -the famous countermeasures, which would be applied if and so long as they achieved a surplus of 3.5% of GDP. The countermeasures included reduction in ENFIA (Real Estate Flat Tax) for tax amounts of up to € 700, not exceeding € 70, reduction in the rate of income tax from 22% to 20%, reduction in the special solidarity levy and in corporate tax rate from 29% down to 26%.
The countermeasures also include housing allowance for up to 600,000 households, free health care for a very small proportion of the population with income less than € 1,200, childcare program, school meals, child benefit, work-related measures targeting the registered unemployed of OAED (reek Manpower Employment Organisation), reduction of pharmaceutical expenditures for taxpayers with income up to € 1,200, etc.
The problem is not on that the countermeasures will be implemented after two years. The problem is how a sine qua non for their implementation is the achievement of outrageous fiscal surpluses through the application of the above mentioned measures, as well as any others that may be necessary until the program is completed, in August 2018.
So, the countermeasures, which are tantamount to breadcrumbs and will only be implemented if and insofar the IMF agrees, work like the carrot that legitimizes the whip of reduced pensions and the lower tax-free income level.”
You can find the complete report under: http://www.defenddemocracy.press/memorandum-steamroller-for-the-greek-people/
We thank Defend Democracy Press for its kind permission to publish this report.