Posted: September 12, 2013 Filed under: Economy, EU, Politics
An email obtained by UNFOLLOW magazine appears to contradict the Greek Government’s claims that their proposed bill regarding the Code of Lawyers in Greece is absolutely “their own initiative” and not a troika “demand”. According to the email, Mr Zenon Kontolemis, a troika-appointed “supervisor”, is addressing pressing requests to the Greek government for “revisions” in the bill, and threatens that, if Greek legislators fail to heed his demands, the sum of loan money Greece is expecting in October will not be disbursed.
“This is a Milestone for receiving the next tranche October, so it must be already finalized and adopted by the Parliament by end September” writes the troika to the Greek Government
During current discussions of the proposed law regarding the Code of Lawyers in the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Public Administration, Public Order and Justice, the Minister of Justice was asked whether there were pressures to implement specific changes to the bill or to speed up the process. The Minister replied that the bill was the Government’s initiative and that there was no “expediting factor”. This is of course in line with overall Government rhetoric that its “reforms” –a euphemism for austerity measures– are no longer dictated by the troika, but by Greece’s own need for “change”.
Troika email to the Greek Government [Click to enlarge]
Nevertheless, the email addressed by Mr Kontolemis to the Greek government contradicts the Justice Minister’s claims: it not only requests that “revisions” be made to the proposed bill, an issue of domestic policy, but it also reminds the government that they have already committed to making these changes in July, and it also demands the legislature’s swift actions, under the threat that the October payment will be withheld.
“We expect,” writes Mr Kontolemis, “the draft Code of Lawyers to be adopted as we have agreed it with the Authorities before Summer, including the above revisions, as soon as possible. In conclusion, we would like to recall that this is an end-July commitment which is already delayed. In addition, this is a Milestone for receiving the next tranche October, so it must be already finalized and adopted by the Parliament by end September”.
The email is addressed to, among others, Mr Dimitris Vartzopoulos, General Coordinator for the Greek Government, officials in both the Ministries of Justice and Finance, as well as officials in the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank.
The Minister of Justice shrugged the email off, saying that it was merely an exchange of “opinions”.
Yesterday, after UNFOLLOW magazine had published the email on its website the previous evening, during the deliberations of the Standing Committee, the Minister of Justice Mr Charalampos Athanassiou was challenged once again by Ms Zoe Konstantopoulou, a SYRIZA (Main Opposition) MP, on his alleged “independence” from the troika. He shrugged the email off, saying that it was merely an exchange of “opinions”, and failed to address the fact that in the email a demand is made of the Greek legislature, a distinct power in a democracy, as a condition for the payout of the next “tranche”.
The deliberations of the Committee were concluded among further protests: The President of the Committee asked for a vote despite the fact that the required number of Members of Parliament was not present. He proceeded to proclaim the vote valid, over the protests of Ms Konstantopoulou, although not even the two MPs out of the three present had voted. Ms Konstantopoulou said in a statement today that subsequently the minutes of the Committee were altered to conceal the illegality of the vote. A video of the proceedings, obtained by UNFOLLOW magazine, appears to confirm Ms Konstantopoulou’s claims. (Video in Greek posted here, soon to be subtitled.)
Throughout the years of the Greek crisis, those who insist that the various agreements with the troika –collectively dubbed “memoranda”– effectively mean a loss of sovereignty are systematically vilified. It does not matter that it is not only the nationalists or the extreme-right who voice such concerns– nor does it matter that, in any case, traditional political divides in Greece have been completely jumbled, with a pro-troika government made up of populist and nationalist rightists and far-rightists, together with socialist “modernizers” and centre-left former leftist “revisionists”. In fact, concerns over the loss of national sovereignty have been expressed by the moderate leftist opposition party SYRIZA, but these were also met with accusations of nothing less than “nationalism,” particularly by the centrist component of the coalition government.
The point of course that is being made by those fearful of the troika’s complete hold over Greek domestic policy is not about abstract national pride, but about the erosion of the democratic process, where citizens are no longer governed by those they have elected, and those who hold elected office are no longer bound by democratic accountability.
Posted: August 19, 2013 Filed under: Economy, Politics
By Nikolia Apostolou
Detention center in Amygdaleza, just outside of Athens. Nikos Pilos
For migrants seeking a better life, Greece can be cruelly inhospitable.
It was one of his usual journeys. Late every Thursday, Shehzad Luqman would bicycle through the streets of Athens to the house of a farmhand, a friend who would often give him fresh produce. On Jan. 17, Shehzad set out on his bike, met his friend, but never made it back. Residents along a portion of Shehzad’s regular route say they heard the sound of a crash, cries for help, and a motorbike speeding away. The 27-year-old Pakistani immigrant was dead; he had been stabbed in the chest by two neo-Nazis in their 20s dressed in black, according to eyewitness accounts. The next day, protestors laid siege to the city center. With Shehzad’s body in a wooden coffin in the middle of the throng, immigrants and Greeks protested side by side against the rising tide of xenophobia that has engulfed their country.
Shehzad, who came to Europe seeking a better future, was a casualty of the Greek economic crisis. Six years of negative growth have left the country devastated, its economy resembling that of a country at war. Unemployment, 11 percent in 2007, is now 30 percent—and it’s nearly double that for young Greeks.
All this has fueled anger in the streets and resentment especially toward immigrants who mop up the low-paying and few jobs that are available. Hate crimes are on the rise, making life for refugees and labor fleeing war zones or poverty in Asia and Africa even grimmer. In such circumstances, Shehzad’s killing was not unusual. “This attack was not an isolated case,” says Amnesty International’s Marek Marczynski. “We have seen a dramatic escalation of racially motivated attacks over the recent past.”
According to official figures, some 700,000 legal immigrants make up 6.5 percent of Greece’s population. The size of the Pakistani community, one of the largest, is estimated to be about 80,000-strong; only 30,000 of them are in Greece legally.
Wariness of outsiders and immigrants, especially Muslims, has been longstanding in Greece. The fear of foreigners reshaping the fabric of Greek society is manifest in the capital’s absence of mosques for tens of thousands of Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. While there are mosques in other cities of Greece, Athens remains one of the few European capitals without a proper mosque. And so Muslim immigrants have improvised, setting up scores of makeshift mosques secreted away in garages or abandoned warehouses.
Yielding to pressure from the European Union, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has lately announced that he will ensure a mosque is built. But this belated concession carries another cost. It gives the far-right more visible targets. Last winter, during the last prayer of the day at a makeshift mosque in an immigrant neighborhood of Athens, two men in black first lobbed a pig’s head inside the structure and then set the mosque on fire. Fortunately, no one was injured in the attack…
(Read the full story on Newsweek Pakistan’s website: http://newsweekpakistan.com/pakistans-greek-tragedy/)
Posted: June 21, 2013 Filed under: Economy, International, Politics | Tags: Greek education
The Greek government has left around 750 newly elected university lecturers in unpaid limbo for up to four years
The Greek government’s accession to EU and IMF demands to curtail public spending has left young researchers out in the cold. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Greece is reeling from six years of recession. Its economy resembles a 1930s-style Great Depression, with GDP having fallen by more than 20% and an official unemployment rate close to 30%. Among young, well-educated Greeks, unemployment hit 56.5% in early 2013.
Talking about scientific research against this economic backdrop might seem a luxury, but against all the odds Greek scientists’ contribution to the top 1% of the most-cited research articles has been ranked 13th in the world, above Canada, Italy and France. What’s more, for every euro invested, the Greek research community generates three.
How on Earth did Greece manage this? A possible explanation might be that Greek scientists have done really well in obtaining funds from European schemes such as the Framework Programmes. They ranksecond in Europe in terms of funds allocated per researcher. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 8, 2013 Filed under: Activism, Economy, EU, International, Politics | Tags: ALTER SUMMIT
Alter Summit live !
Follow the plenary session of the Alter Summit with all European movements and organizations in Athens.
This event will be organized with the Greek social movement with the support of civil society organizations, trade unions, NGOs, political and cultural personalities from all around Europe.
The Alter Summit in Athens will be a step forward in the building of more convergence between movements opposed to the current anti-social and anti-ecological policies promoted by European governments and institutions.
Follow the Livestream of the plenary session of the Altersummit from 7PM to 10PM ! http://www.altersummit.eu
All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English] [français] [italiano]
Posted: April 17, 2013 Filed under: Economy, Politics, Society | Tags: Call for Papers
European Social Science History Conference (Wien, 23-26 April 2014)
Michela Barbot (ENS Cachan, Paris), Fabrice Boudjaaba (CRH-EHESS, Paris), Andrea Caracausi (University of Padua), Luca Mocarelli (Bicocca University, Milan)
General Aim of the Project
Over the last decades the history of property rights and the history of work have been deeply renewed. Recent investigations have challenged the traditional idea that the rise of European capitalism was due to a linear transition from ‘non-private’ to ‘private’ property and from ‘non-commodified’ to ‘commodified’ labour. Different institutional forms coexisted indeed for many centuries, far beyond the Industrial Revolution.
Despite this new evidence, few studies have analysed the historical evolution of work and property together. This absence is regrettable. Work and property were indeed both at the basis of the social inclusion, citizenship rights and other fundamental institutional devices which are usually considered as typical of the economic growth and political modernity. Therefore an analysis that jointly investigates the evolution of the forms of property and work could significantly help to better clarify the historical mechanisms of development and modernization.
Following this perspective several key questions remain still open. They can be summarized as follow: how did ‘work’ and ‘property’ as historical institutions reciprocally interact, and, in turn, which were the socioeconomic implications of this interaction?
This macro-session aims to answer to these questions, investigating the relationship between labour and property using a wide European comparison and a long-term perspective, since the 16th century to the beginning of the 20th century. This wide perspective will allow us to evaluate the impact on ownership and work practices of some outstanding legal changes, such as the movement of English enclosures, the 1804 French Civil Code, or the Second Serfdom in the Eastern Europe.
Starting from the main research questions sketched above, we welcome papers articulated around three major research lines, which reflect three different sub-sessions:
Sub-session 1. Communities, households, individuals
In this first research sub-session we encourage papers dealing with the analysis of the role of the various historical property regimes (private, collective, dissociated, etc.) and labour relations (free and unfree labour; reciprocal and wage labour) in the (supposed) process of ‘emancipation’ of individuals from family or communities. More specifically, we would like to understand: (a) If, and how were the forms of work and property based on the model of the domestic household and (b) how did the relations between household systems, property regimes and labour organisations evolve across centuries.
Sub-session 2. Appropriations, dispossession, capabilities
Until recently, the history of the industrial revolution has been seen as a process of dispossession started in Europe since the agricultural enclosures. Following this interpretation, the closure of open fields had two main effects: the spread of a culture of a ‘full owner’ and the transformation of a mass of landless peasants excluded from their communities into an exploited and unskilled working class. In our opinion, this too rigid interpretation could be questioned. We argue that the integration of wage labour in a series of rules and contractual arrangements may have contributed to the development of a set of individual or collective ‘capabilities’ (in line with the interpretation of Amartya Sen), which were able to generate inclusion and improve labour skills rather than create division, separation or exploitation. The two main questions here will be: (a) how did property rights and labour relations help, or dampen, the process of acquisition of skills in the various times and context? (b) Was there a relationship between the fragility/imperfection/uncertainty of property rights and the ‘precariousness’ in labour relations? How did the status of owners interact with the professional status?
Sub-session 3. Embeddedness, evaluation and commodification
A third line of research would test the (‘supposed’) progressive depersonalization and commodification of economic relations in property and labour systems. The basic question can be expressed as follow: the Polanyi’s hypothesis concerning the “disembeddedness” of the economy from society starting back from the Industrial Revolution can be proved comparing and connecting the histories of property and work? The authors are invited to reflect on these points: (1) when, how and why did the work turn into a commodity? (2) Did the emergence of full private property have some effects on contractual conditions and negotiations between employers and employees in labour relations, especially in term of wages fixation and working times?
We welcome both micro-historical studies on single cities or communities and macro-approaches on entire regions and States. From a micro perspective, our aim is to compare urban and rural contexts, in order to understand when and how the so-called ‘modern’ concepts of property and work appeared first. From a macro perspective, we would explore the property and labour ‘divergences’ within Europe, in order to better highlight the role played by these two institutions in the supposed ‘Great Divergence’ between continental Europe and Great Britain, as well as between Eastern and Western Europe. Authors should indicate in which sub-session the paper refers.
Abstracts (100-500 words) and one-half page CV have to be sent by 25 April 2013 to:
For more on ESSHC, visit: http://esshc.socialhistory.org/esshc-vienna-2014
Posted: April 5, 2013 Filed under: Economy, International | Tags: Cyprus
Depositors decimated by bail-in.
Come again? Cypriots discover the debt jubilee? Well yes actually, that is basically how depositors at Cypriot banks have been treated by the Troika, even if the decision to grab up to 9.9% of cash deposits to finance a bail out of the finance sector is being presented as a tax or levy. To understand this we have to view matters from the banks’ perspective: every depositor is lending money to the bank for a fee (paltry interest and illusory security) and this appears on the balance sheet as a liability which in toto in the case of Cypriot banks considerably exceeds assets. Treated as lenders, Cypriot deposit-holders are being asked (ordered) to take a haircut on the debt so that the banks’ balance sheets look a little better.
What we have is a kind of “bail-in”, where individuals already in a rickety credit structure are being asked to take a hit (as opposed to a bail out where a third-party injects fresh funds).
Technically, deposit holders are not simply cancelling up to 9.9% of their loans to the bank, rather they are being asked (ordered) to enter into a debt for equity swap. This means that whatever sums they witness disappearing from their bank accounts will be used to buy shares in a pro rata amount in the bank in question. Looking at the state of a bank like Laiki (Popular) Bank, it is fairly safe to assume that these shares are hardly fair consideration. Junior bondholders are also going to take a haircut, but not the senior bondholders, because these latter might get scared and/or throw a tantrum.[UPDATE 18/3/13: there are suggestions that deposits will now be swapped for bonds guaranteed by the proceeds from gas extraction in Cypriot waters. One wonders why the gas futures, and so the risk, are not being snapped up by others.] Given the almost 10% cut in some cases, the attribution of a financial decimation, where a defeated Roman legion would have to slaughter 1/10th of its contingent, would be appropriate were it not for the fact that in Roman decimation the participants got to elect who they put to the sword. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 1, 2013 Filed under: Economy, Politics | Tags: Vio.Me
posted at RoarMag.org
Fighting for a world without unemployment or bosses, the Vio.Me. factory in crisis-ridden Greece starts production under democratic workers’ control.
We are the ones who knead and yet we have no bread,
we are the ones who dig for coal and yet we are cold.
We are the ones who have nothing,
and we are coming to take the world.
~ Tassos Livaditis (Greek poet, 1922-1988)
In the heart of the crisis, the workers of Vio.Me. are aiming for the heart of exploitation and property
With unemployment climbing to 30 percent, workers’ income reaching zero, sick and tired of big words, promises and more taxes, unpaid since May 2011 and currently withholding their labour, with the factory abandoned by the employers, the workers of Vio.Me., by decision of their general assembly, declare their determination not to fall prey to a condition of perpetual unemployment, but instead to struggle to take the factory in their own hands and operate it themselves.
Through a formal proposal dating from October 2011 they have been claiming the establishment of a workers’ cooperative under full workers’ control, demanding legal recognition for their own workers’ cooperative, as well as for all the others to follow. At the same time they have been demanding the money required to put the factory in operation, money that in any case belongs to them, as they are the ones who produce the wealth of society.
The plan that was drawn up met with the indifference of the state and of trade union bureaucracies. But it was received with great enthusiasm by the world of the social movements, which, through the creation of the Open Initiative of Solidarity in Thessaloniki — and afterwards with similar initiatives in many other cities — have been struggling for the past 6 months to spread the message of Vio.Me across society.
Now it’s time for worker´s control of Vio.Me.!
The workers cannot wait any longer for the bankrupt state to fulfil its gratuitous promises of support (even the 1000-euro emergency aid promised by the Ministry of Labour was never approved by the Minister of Finance). It’s time to see the Vio.Me. factory — as well as any other factory that is closing down, going bankrupt or laying off its workers — reopened by its workers, and not by its old or new bosses.
The struggle should not be limited to Vio.Me. In order for it to be victorious, it should be generalized and spread to all the factories and businesses that are closing down, because only through a network of self-managed factories will Vio.Me be able to thrive and light the way towards a different organisation of production and the economy, with no exploitation, inequality or hierarchy.
When factories are closing down one after another, the number of the unemployed in Greece is approaching 2 million and the vast majority of the population is condemned to poverty and misery by the governing coalition of PASOK-ND-DIMAR, which continues the policies of the preceding governments, the demand to operate the factories under workers’ control is the only reasonable response to the disaster that we experience every day, the only answer to unemployment.
For that reason, the struggle of Vio.Me. is everyone’s struggle
We urge all workers, the unemployed and all those who are affected by the crisis to stand by the workers of Vio.Me and support them in their effort to put in practice the belief that workers can make it without bosses! We call on them to participate in a nationwide Struggle and Solidarity Caravan culminating in three days of struggle in Thessaloniki. We urge them to take up the struggle and organize their own fights within their working places, with direct democratic procedures, without bureaucrats.
We invite them to participate in a general political strike in order to oust those who destroy our lives!
Aiming to establish worker’s control over factories and the whole of production and to organize the economy and society that we desire, a society without bosses!
It’s Vio.Me.’s time. Let’s get to work!
Paving the way for workers’ self-management everywhere!
Paving the way for a society without bosses!
Open Initiative of Solidarity and Support
to the struggle of the workers of Vio.Me.