Steelworker’s Strike Ends; Juncker Admits He Lied
StopCartel TV broadcasts live from Athens, Greece weeknights @ 6 pm Athens time. The following post is a loose transcript of the July 30, 2012 broadcast.
By greydogg and snake arbusto, 99GetSmart
– The steelworkers from the Hellenic Halyvourgias Steel Mill in Aspropyrgos held a general assembly of their union on Friday, 27 July and Saturday, 28 July and voted to officially terminate their nine-month strike. One hundred fifty workers were reported present. 107 voted to end the strike, while 14 voted against and 29 abstained.
The workers voted to strike last October, protesting layoffs, cuts in working hours and a decrease in pay to 500 euros ($615) per month. The heroic nine-month strike was interrupted at 5:30 a.m. on Friday, 20 July, in a brutal raid by rioting police, who were working in the interest of a private owner, Nikos Manesis.
Again, during the early morning hours on Monday, 23 July, the Greek rioting police used chemical weapons to disperse a group of striking steelworkers gathered outside the gates of the mill. The workers were there to protest the reopening of the steel mill.
Supporters of the steelworkers, who quickly organized an impressive rally – 10,000 people gathered in Omonia Square and marched to Syntagma Square on Monday (23 July) evening – were stunned at the decision to end the strike.
The details are still unclear, but it appears that the strike has ended without any of the steelworkers’ demands being met. Longtime supporters feel that the struggle of the steelworkers represents the larger struggle for workers’ rights in Greece and that this was not their decision to make alone. Supporters feel an especially deep disappointment that the strike seems to have ended without any gains for Greek society.
Kritios Katsionis, an MP from the Communist Party, asks “What are the demands from the union now?” He also responded to the steelworkers’ supporters, who are asking “Who is giving orders to whom?”
The arrangement with the government was that once the strike ended, the rioting police would be removed from the steel mill because there would be no reason for their presence. The Minister of Justice said that the rioting police would be removed by Monday morning. But despite promises from the government, the rioting police remain on guard.
According to Mr. Katsionis, industrialist Nikos Manesis, a private citizen and the owner of the Hellenic Halyvourgias Steel Mill, is giving direct orders to the Greek government, who then pass down his orders to the rioting police. Manesis has instructed the government to leave the rioting police at the steel mill, in order to marginalize the workers.The rioting police were also instructed, by Manesis, to let the workers into the factory one by one, in a show of control.
The government continues to insist that it had acted upon the wishes of the workers, while the radical-Left main opposition party SYRIZA and the Communist Party condemned the police action.
– “When it becomes serious, you have to lie.” – Jean Claude Juncker, May 2011.
From Suddeutsche Zeitung:
“No time to lose”: The chairman of the €-group feels that a crucial point in the debt crisis has been reached. Jean-Claude Juncker supports plans by ECB chief Draghi for the purchase of government bonds – and says that Germany is partly to blame for the crisis. Berlin treats the euro area “as a branch,” Juncker said, and that “chatter about the withdrawal of Greece” is not helpful.
Juncker confirmed that the euro countries are preparing together with the bailout fund EFSF and the European Central Bank to buy government bonds from struggling countries if necessary. Because there is no doubt, he said, that “It is still necessary to decide exactly what we will do and when.” This depends “on developments in the next few days and on how fast we have to react.”
Except that Germany’s Finance Minister “denied plans for a new aid program for Spain, according to newspaper Welt am Sonntag, after the media reported European Union leaders aim for Spanish government bond purchases by the European rescue fund and the European Central Bank.”
Tyler Durden, from zerohedge, summarizes:
i) since the head of the Eurogroup is back to outright refuting what Germany said a day earlier, Europe is once again back to Plan B – lying, which means things are again on the verge of an all-out collapse, and a plunge in the EURUSD (which, as a reminder, is precisely what the German export industry wants more than anything), and
ii) just as at the June 29 summit, beggars are again hoping they can be choosers, and force Germany – by way of a full-blown media onslaught in which they represent a vague possibility as a certain outcome, and thus have already set expectations about 5% higher than they it would be otherwise – to succumb to the will of the beggars, and allow full-blown debt monetization.
In conclusion, here are excerpts from a Spiegel magazine interview with Mr. Juncker, highlighting his hilarious attempts to justify his lies:
SPIEGEL: Mr. Prime Minister, you are a Christian Democrat and a Catholic, which is why we want to talk to you about the Ten Commandments.
Juncker: I already have an idea of what you are getting at.
SPIEGEL: Are you familiar with the Eighth Commandment?
Juncker: Of course. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
SPIEGEL: Apparently you don’t take it very seriously. More than two weeks ago, you denied a report by SPIEGEL ONLINE about a secret meeting of several European Union finance ministers to discuss the situation in Greece, even though the official limousines were already pulling up in Luxembourg.
Juncker: The most important commandment is not to inflict harm on others. Although it isn’t stated quite that way in the Ten Commandments, it follows from them. The finance ministers of several Euro Group nations had agreed to meet on Friday with the president of the European Central Bank (ECB), Jean-Claude Trichet. Because the financial markets in Europe were still open and trading was still underway on Wall Street, we had to deny the existence of the meeting. Otherwise the rate of the euro against the dollar, which had already fallen as a result of your report, would have plunged disastrously.
SPIEGEL: With this false denial, you not only harmed your own credibility, but that of European financial policy as well.
Juncker: And it didn’t exactly enhance the credibility of SPIEGEL ONLINE to disseminate the false report that we were meeting in Luxembourg to discuss Greece’s withdrawal from the monetary union.
SPIEGEL: Forgive us for saying so, but SPIEGEL ONLINE had obtained information to that effect from government sources, as well as a working document prepared specifically for this meeting for the German finance minister.
Juncker: It is not unusual for finance ministers to have documents with them that contain all of the issues being discussed in public. And the question of Greece’s withdrawal from the monetary union is certainly being discussed in public. But that’s a far cry from saying that the issue is on the agenda of a meeting. As a result, I had to be all the more careful to ensure that no unnecessary turbulence would occur in the markets.
SPIEGEL: Are you saying that, as a finance minister in the age of global capital markets, you cannot tell people the truth?
Juncker: I do not have a ready answer to your question. My main concern is to protect people from detriment. That’s why I feel practically compelled to make sure that no dangerous rumors begin to circulate. I’m certainly not going to go to confession because of a false denial. God understands more about the financial markets than many who write about them.
SPIEGEL: When secret meetings are held and the truth isn’t always being told, people get the impression that there must be something wrong with this Europe.
Juncker: People understand perfectly well that politicians have to discuss sensitive issues behind closed doors. I had 10 seconds to decide how to react to the report in SPIEGEL ONLINE. Let us say, hypothetically, that I had said: “Okay, we are having a meeting, but I’m not going to tell you what we intend to talk about.” That would have triggered a tsunami in the financial markets. Instead, I chose to produce a small wave of outrage over a white lie.
SPIEGEL: Nevertheless, we’d like to try aiming for the truth.
– Of the 11.5€ billion to be cut from Greece’s budget, employees, pensioners and patients are scheduled for 5€ billion in cuts. Some of the proposed measures include:
A cap for pensions: maximum pension would be 2,000-2,200 euro
Pensions: A 5% cut for pensions 1,000-1,400€. A 10% cut for pensions over 1,400€. The cut will be applied to the total amount, for those receiving more than one pension.
Allowances, Social Benefits: More than 89 social and welfare benefits will be given according to income and social criteria. Only the unemployment allowance and EKAS (a welfare benefit for low pensioners) are “untouched’’ by the measures, even though a very low-income cap was set and applied last year for EKAS.
There have been some rumors that there will be cuts to unemployment allowance for seasonal workers (agriculture, tourism), but this has not been confirmed.
Lump sum: There will be a lump-sum cut of 22.67% for civil servants, and a total of 40% in cuts for insurance funds that pay a higher lump sum than the employees’ contributions.
Healthcare: Maximum annual spending per insured patient will be 1,500€! This amount includes expenditures covered by insurance funds for prescription medicine, 2 check ups per year and 1 hospital stay.
If this amount is exhausted before the year’s end, patients will have to pay 10€ per visit to a doctor and 15% of the daily cost for a hospital stay.
StopCartel TV broadcasts live from Athens, Greece on weeknights at 6pm Athens time @ http://www.livestream.com/stopcarteltvgr