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  • Greek unions protest expected austerity measures

    Greek unions protest expected austerity measures
    By DEMETRIS NELLAS, Associated Press Writer Demetris Nellas, Associated Press Writer Sat May 1, 12:34 pm ET

    ATHENS, Greece – Hundreds of youths rioted in Athens on Saturday, throwing Molotov cocktails and stones at police who responded with tear gas at a May Day rally against austerity measures being enacted by the cash-strapped government to secure foreign loans to stave off bankruptcy.

    Police made at least nine arrests, including six people suspected of looting a shop. Seven officers were injured along with two demonstrators.

    The uniforms of several riot police officers were set ablaze by firebombs. One of the policemen hopped over a metal railing as other officers stood over him extinguishing the flames. A state television van was set on fire and badly damaged.

    Responding to calls from the country's two main labor unions, several thousand people marched in major Greek cities Saturday against the anticipated spending cuts and consumer tax hikes.

    In Athens, groups of black-clad anarchists in hoods and motorcycle helmets smashed three shop and hotel windows and set up barricades of burning trash bins. Around 17,000 people took part in the march, according to police estimates.

    Leftist and anarchist demonstrators heckled and threw plastic water bottles at former parliamentary speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis, a governing Socialist lawmaker, after spotting him among pedestrians on the sidelines of the Athens march. Kaklamanis, 73, was hit and kicked but suffered no major injuries and was eventually whisked away by police.

    The center-left government is set to announce more sweeping spending cuts through 2012 to win support for an international loan package worth euro45 billion ($60 billion) this year alone. The Cabinet meets Sunday morning to finalize the measures, with Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou expected to announce them at noon and then immediately fly to Brussels for an emergency meeting of euro-zone finance ministers.

    The International Monetary Fund has said it will provide the money over three years, along with Greece's partners in the euro zone. IMF and EU negotiators began talks in Athens on April 21 and continued through Friday.

    French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said Saturday after a meeting of French government officials that she was confident euro-zone finance ministers would approve the package by the end of the weekend. Governments are discussing a package of up to euro120 billion ($159 billion) over three years, she said.

    In March, Athens announced belt-tightening measures aimed to save some euro4.8 billion this year through cuts in civil service pay, higher indirect taxes and a crackdown on widespread tax evasion. But these proved insufficient, and additional austerity measures will likely include further hikes in consumer taxes, and deeper cuts in pensions and public service pay. Unions are furious.

    "These measures are death. How people are going to live tomorrow, how they're going to survive, I do not understand," said Nikos Diamantopoulos, who was participating in a rally organized by pro-Communist unions.

    Union members held a peaceful march to the Athens offices of the European Union and continuing to the U.S. Embassy.

    In the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, where more than 5,000 people demonstrated, anarchists briefly clashed with police and smashed a few storefronts and ATMs.

    Greek unions have called a nationwide general strike for May 5.

    Conservative opposition party New Democracy and the right-wing populist LAOS have been critical of the government but are seen as likely to support the package of measures. Left-wing parties have vowed to escalate protests.

    "The Greek people do not owe anything to anybody. Those who have brazenly robbed public money and pension funds," Left Coalition leader Alexis Tsipras told reporters at one of the Athens rallies.

    Accountant Virginia Kalapotharakou, who joined striking seamen and dockworkers rallying in the port of Piraeus, called the potential measures "very reactionary."

    "They're trying to do away with all the rights we gained through struggles in previous years," she told The Associated Press.

    A default would be a serious blow to the euro currency and could hit Greek and European banks that invested in Greek government bonds. The bailout is designed to prevent that and to keep the Greek crisis from spreading to other countries that use the euro.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Berlin is pushing for changes to the rules governing the euro zone, including the possibility of suspending voting rights for nations that do not uphold their commitments.

    Merkel told the Bild am Sonntag weekly in comments released Saturday that European Union finance minister would meet in May to discuss implementing changes to the bylaws for membership in the 16-nation euro zone.

    The chancellor said the common currency had been one of the greatest European success stories, but that changes were needed to ensure its stability.

    Greece spent freely for years and ran up debt equal to 115 percent of gross domestic product. It has been effectively shut out of bond markets to refinance its debt pile because investors fear default and are demanding high rates of interest the government says it cannot pay.

    Signs that the help will soon be approved have calmed markets, which previously pushed Greece's cost of borrowing to untenably high levels high as EU and German officials showed little urgency in addressing the problem.

    On Friday the interest rate gap, or spread, between Greek 10-year bonds and their benchmark German equivalent narrowed to 6.20 percentage points, from a staggering 10 points Wednesday.

    But Athens was in for more bad news as credit agency Moody's Investor Services downgraded the debt rating of nine Greek banks: National Bank of Greece, EFG Eurobank Ergasias, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank, Emporiki Bank of Greece, Agricultural Bank of Greece, General Bank of Greece, Marfin Egnatia Bank and Attica Bank.

    Moody's said the banks' might face further downgrades — a move that would come alongside Moody's ongoing review of the country's sovereign debt rating.

    On Thursday, the agency confirmed that it is awaiting to see details of an EU-IMF rescue package before a possible revision of Greece's credit rating, but that a "multi-notch downgrade" remained likely.

    ___

    Associated Press writers Elena Becatoros in Athens, Costas Kantouris in Thessaloniki, Greg Keller in Paris and Melissa Eddy in Berlin contributed to this report.
    Copyright © 2010 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  • #2
    Way to go, Greek unions. Cut off your nose to spite your face!

    Kind of hilarious that they're not even waiting for the government to actually make changes before they started rioting over them.
    "Nature abhors a moron." - H.L. Mencken

    Comment


    • #3
      OK, say Greece doesn't manage to secure foreign loans. What happens next? Does the EU step in, or do they cut Greece loose to sink or swim on their own. If the EU tries to bail Greece out and it doesn't work, what happens to the Euro itself? If the Euro tanks, what's the effect on world economy? Is it bigger or smaller than the Wall Street meltdown?

      Sidebar: Wasn't the EU built and founded to grant financial security and political strength with the idea that no one country in the EU will go down the way Greece is?
      Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

      Abusing Yellow is meant to be a labor of love, not something you sell to the highest bidder.

      Comment


      • #4
        I think you're confusing the European Union and the eurozone. They're not synonymous. Not every member state of the EU is in the eurozone.
        "Nature abhors a moron." - H.L. Mencken

        Comment


        • #5
          Eh? What's the difference between the two?

          But what happens in the long run if Greece can't get the loans?
          Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

          Abusing Yellow is meant to be a labor of love, not something you sell to the highest bidder.

          Comment


          • #6
            The EZ consist out of 27 Nation

            The Eurozone are those Nations within the EU that use the Euro and consist out of 16 Nation. Most of the 11 Nations that don't use the Euro but are in the EU are from Eastern Europe and have yet not archived entrance to the Eurozone, but some older Members like the UK and Denmark decided against joining and kept their old curriency.

            While both the EU and the Eurozone were (among other reasons) created to increase trade and stabilitly for the members it was actually explicit stated in the Maastricht Treaty that EU states that taking on the debt obligations of the other members is forbidden.

            And despite all the screaming and whailing, Greece will be bailed out in the end (some loophole for the the clause mentioned above will surely be found).

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Tarek Morgen View Post
              And despite all the screaming and whailing, Greece will be bailed out in the end (some loophole for the the clause mentioned above will surely be found).
              No need to find a loophole. EC Treaty, Article 100 (2.):

              Where a member state is in difficulties or is seriously threatened with severe difficulties caused by exceptional occurences beyond its control, the Council may [...] grant [...] Community financial assistance.

              Comment


              • #8
                The protesters don't seem to grasp that their country's honey pot is empty. Probably better than half of them avoid their taxes.
                To be Truly ignorant, Man requires an Education - Plato

                Comment


                • #9
                  California is not far behind. I can't wait until the state goes bankrupt. I hope Greece goes bankrupt too. Oh happy days.
                  "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The Unions should do what their dues are for, go inside and negotiate the best deal possible, under the circumstances, for working people - violence and intimidation has no place in industrial negotiations.

                    The Greek politicians should swing for how badly they govern, but I digress.
                    Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.
                    - John Stuart Mill.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by crooks View Post
                      The Unions should do what their dues are for, go inside and negotiate the best deal possible, under the circumstances, for working people - violence and intimidation has no place in industrial negotiations.

                      The Greek politicians should swing for how badly they govern, but I digress.
                      And so should ALL soshie/Bolshie com-symp pinko-lefty Trots that mis-rule, while trying to hustle The People into using their own money to pay them off with a bribe to be WORSE off, all the while claiming to have their interests at heart.

                      AND the people that vote for 'em.

                      Like YOU.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bluesman View Post
                        And so should ALL soshie/Bolshie com-symp pinko-lefty Trots that mis-rule, while trying to hustle The People into using their own money to pay them off with a bribe to be WORSE off, all the while claiming to have their interests at heart.

                        AND the people that vote for 'em.

                        Like YOU.
                        If you have a point to make about Unions or Greece or anything relevant to the thread to me, a person you disagree with, I'll happily discuss it and try to articulate myself.

                        If all you've got is wanton abuse, that's fine, but don't expect me to humour you.

                        Whichever you prefer is grand, it doesn't bother me much either way.
                        Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.
                        - John Stuart Mill.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Bottom line, government employees should not be able to form a union. That entity directly affects the people it negotiates contracts with by election. As much as I dislike labor unions, at least UAW does not have a member sitting on the board of GM due to conflict of interest. This is not the case in government employee unions. They pump money to get "their" guys elected into public office. Then negotiate with them about pension and pay raises and job security. Sounds like a blatant conflict of interest to me. California is going through this right now.
                          "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Heard the best quote today attributed to a recently deceased money manager.

                            "Never get involved in business where they do not wear an overcoat in winter"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bluesman View Post
                              And so should ALL soshie/Bolshie com-symp pinko-lefty Trots that mis-rule, while trying to hustle The People into using their own money to pay them off with a bribe to be WORSE off, all the while claiming to have their interests at heart.
                              Not as simple as that. The Greek government has always been a laughing stock regardless if it was left, right or centrist. Every group of politicians would come in, replace the previous sycophants with their own sycophants, stop the previous rorts and replace them with their own rorts and throw a bone to their supporters as opposed to the previous supporters.

                              The Greek nation as a whole has become fat and lazy and the vast majority of people get a lot more than they give in benefits and the like. Anyone from middle class up either pays minimal or no tax and as far as everybody is concerned its someone elses fault. Theres no red/blue divide here, they are all as bad as each other.

                              Excellent example, Cyprus, which is next door, mostly the same ethnic, religious and cultural mix (except for the Turkish occupied North which accounts for 18% of the population and has a negligible economy) has a far higher GDP per capita, a solvent economy, a much more Laissez Fair tax system (coupled with a population that for the most part PAY TAX) and, get this, a COMMUNIST PRESIDENT.

                              Yet for the Cypriots it works, for the Greeks it doesn't. If we are to use your judgment on the matter Cyprus should be doing a shiteload worse, I mean Communism is worse than Socialism isn't it? Although realistically its still a standard European Socialist government with a more hard core name.
                              The best part of repentance is the sin

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