The head of Greece’s largest labor union launched a stinging attack on the troika on Friday and suggested that the new round of austerity the country’s lenders favor would lead to the Greek economy contracting by more than 5 percent next year. “We agreed on only one thing: that we disagree on everything,” Yiannis Panagopoulos, the head of private sector union, GSEE, told journalists after meeting representatives of the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank. He said the austerity program had pushed Greece into recession.
“The gentlemen of the troika came to Greece as doctors, they were going to administer the medicine that would save the country and society, but they proved to be charlatans, quacks who gave us a potion that destroyed the economy and had a dramatic impact on Greek society,” said Panagopoulos, whose union has about 700,000 members.
“If they were civil servants and had to be evaluated, it is certain they would have been fired,” he added.
The GSEE chief said the coalition government’s decision to proceed with planned cuts of 11.5 billion euros over the next two years was “a political catastrophe that no Greek government should accept.” He said that if the savings that have been reported were made, they would cause the economy to contract by 5.5 percent of GDP and unemployment to rise to 28 percent next year.
Among the cost-cutting measures the coalition is considering are raising the retirement age from 65 to 67, limiting total basic and supplementary pensions to 2,500 euros and withholding 10 percent of pensions above 1,400 euros. The government plans to save more than 5 billion from pension reductions and other cuts to social security spending.