What’s REALLY bugging Eurozone hardliners about Syriza?
The brinkmanship and rhetoric surrounding the renegotiation of Greece’s memorandum with the Troika was ramped up this week as a meeting of Eurozone finance ministers on Monday broke up without agreement. Both sides accused the other of intransigence, although the new Greek government has offered to compromise and negotiate, and was ready to accept a deal brokered by Commission President Juncker and backed by some Eurozone governments until it was reportedly scuppered by hardliners like Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble and the Dutch chair of the meeting Jeroen Dijsselbloem.
German politicians in particular are arguing that they cannot allow Greece to renege on agreements the previous government made to repay its debts (and carefully ignoring the persistent reminders that Germany’s own post-war economic miracle was based on precisely the debt forgiveness that Greece is seeking!) But it seems that it may not be fiscal rectitude that motivates the hardliners in the Eurozone. Bluntly, it’s not them, it’s us!
The Financial Times on Tuesday evening ran a story indicating that the hardliners were in particular opposed to allowing the Greek government to legislate (in Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ words to the Greek Parliament):
… “to end the medieval regulation of the labour market created by the troika to serve the interests of the oligarchs”, in effect restoring collective wage bargaining.
And European private services sector union federation UNI-Europa heard from the Greek government’s Labour Minister Panos Skourletis on the same day that:
“During the last five years we have seen the de-regularisation of industrial relations. For us at the Ministry of Labour our main task is to bring back legislative and institutional reforms, to bring back collective bargaining and to bring back labour rights – not only how they were before austerity but giving them an even wider plain of implementation.”
So, as well as rejecting the Greek government’s democratic mandate to end austerity (or, in reality, just to scale it back), the Eurozone’s ideological hardliners are very upset that Greek workers could get back their fundamental human right to bargain collectively. And that’s disgraceful, because as members of the ILO, all the governments whose Finance Ministers are currently blocking the negotiation of a deal that would at least buy Greece’s economy time, are committed to uphold that fundamental human right.
“What is not in dispute is that the freedoms to associate and to bargain collectively are fundamental rights.”
Perhaps he could tell the German, Dutch and a few other Eurozone governments? Because they don’t seem to agree.