Ilgas įrašas Economist bloge gerai demaskuoja dabar vykstančių streikų Europoje esmę. Streikuoja ne tie, kam iš tiesų blogai, o tie kurie turi susikūrę privilegijuotas sąlygas. Kas dar svarbiau, dauguma streikų vyksta ne privačiame, o būtent valstybiniame sektoriuje.
Čia net aršiam Marksistui turėtų nusvirti rankos – tokių streikų neįmanoma pateikti kaip išnaudojamo darbininko maišto prieš išnaudotoją kapitalistą, pasisavinantį darbininko sukurtą papildomą pridėtinę vertę. Valstybinis ir viešas sektorius yra finansuojami iš mokesčių mokėtojų, o taigi ir iš darbininkų, sumokamų mokesčių. Valstybinio ir viešojo sektoriaus streikas – būdas iš mokesčių mokėtojų išlupti dar daugiau pinigų. (net jei pinigų nėra, kaip, pvz., Graikijos atveju).
Taigi, ponai (t.y. draugai), kas gi yra tikrieji išnaudotojai?
P.S. Žemiau – Economist straipsnis
Take a close look at who is on strike in Europe
• Feb 25th 2010, 10:30 by Charlemagne
LAST night, I was invited to debate the wave of strikes underway across Europe on the BBC World Service. Preparing to go on “Europe Today” and tussle with a representative of an international trade union federation, I spent a while Googling about to establish just who, exactly, has been on strike in Europe this week. It was an instructive exercise, and even a little cheering. In Greece, Spain and France, which saw the most industrial action in the euro zone, the strikers were hardly your average citizen, let along members of a struggling underclass. They were, in a striking number of cases, public sector workers whose special privileges mark them out as notorious rent-seekers, even by the standards of European civil services, or workers in companies with such political clout that they are immune from the summary redundancies and wage freezes that affect other industries.
In Greece, the strikers have included customs officers and tax collectors: workers who not only enjoy special tax free allowances and early retirement on big pensions, but also include in their ranks some of the most notoriously corrupt officials in Greece, known for their willingness to take bribes in order to allow the wealthy to avoid paying their taxes (a big reason why Greece is broke). The public sector workers were striking, among other things, against plans to increase their retirement age from 61 to 63 (when many European countries are talking about raising it from 65 to 67). Greek taxi drivers are due to strike against plans to open their closed profession. It is symptomatic of the unhealthy power of the trade unions that the Greek deputy prime minister, Theodoros Pangalos, was forced to “clarify” what he meant when he said that in the future civil servants could not expect a job for life. According to Kathimerini, the Greek government spokesman hastened to assure unions that: “Pangalos meant that when someone in the public service retires, it is not certain his replacement will also have a job for life.” In other words, today’s civil servants need never fear redundancy.
In Spain, the public sector trade unions have been vocal in their anger about austerity measures under discussion, including freezes in pay and a rise in the legal retirement age. Spain is, as discussed here before, a country with a horrible, immoral two-tier labour market, in which older workers with permanent contracts are extremely expensive to fire, while young people and immigrants struggle by on short-term temporary contracts that discourage firms from training them and investing in them. It is notable that the wave of strikes called this week was a flop (though the weather was bad, in fairness). Here is a report from Reuters:
One newspaper poll showed almost half of Spaniards would support a general strike against increasing the retirement age. But Tuesday’s turnout will reinforce suspicions that Spanish unions, which represent only 16 percent of workers, would struggle to bring the country to a halt. “The unions were powerful in the past, but they’ve lost it. They have much more influence in times of economic boom,” said Juan Carlos Rodriguez, of Madrid consultancy Analistas Socio-Politicos. Protesters in Madrid were overwhelmingly middle-aged or older and representatives of Spain’s large immigrant population were almost completely absent. The unions also seemed to fail to attract support from people without full-time employment.
It is equally notable that El País, a centre-left newspaper as well as the country’s best quality daily, goes big this morning on the question of public sector wages, but not from an especially sympathetic perspective. Their report today notes:
Civil service salaries have risen ahead of inflation in recent years. The pay rise in 2009 is especially striking, as it was around 3.5% while consumer prices rose by a mere 0.8% that year. Higher salaries as well as an increase in staff numbers resulted in an annual rise of 5.4% in personnel costs in the public administration in 2009.
That does not read like a wave of sympathy to me.
In France, the two most newsworthy protests teeter on self-parody. The first involves French air traffic controllers, a band of pirates whose ability to paralyse the skies over France has left them with outrageous perks and privileges, spelled out in minute detail in a recent report by the Cours des Comptes, the powerful French budgetary watchdog. According to the court’s report, senior management have no idea how many days a year their staff actually work, because they long ago ceded control of their staff to secretive heads of unit, who have the power to award “clearances” for staff to take extra days off when they are not needed. Nobody denies that being an air traffic controller is a high-stress job, which needs well-rested workers. But as far as anyone can tell, French air traffic controllers work around 100 days a year, or fully five weeks fewer than their colleagues at Eurocontrol, a centralised air traffic control network based in the Netherlands. In return, some are paid more than €7000 a month. They are on strike to protest against any change in their protected employment terms and conditions. Poor lambs.
Moving to the private sector, workers at the Dunkirk oil refinery of the giant energy firm Total are still on strike, after colleagues at other French Total refineries returned to work. The Dunkirk workers are striking because Total has said it has refinery overcapacity in France, and needs to close some of its production sites to save hundreds of millions of euros a year. This being France, the government has already summoned Total bosses to secure assurances that the site at Dunkirk will not be closed completely, and that not one worker will lose their job. That was enough for national union bosses to recommend an end to industrial action. But the militant hard-left union SUD rules the roost at the Dunkirk site, and secured a vote by raised hands to keep on striking.
This posting is not an attack on all trade unions, or even all strikes. There are some genuinely tragic stories out there in this recession. For example, in Belgium, shop workers from the Carrefour supermarket chain are braced for a nationwide strike over plans to lay off nearly 2,000 staff at Belgian stores and depots. According to Le Soir newspaper, a 32 year old cashier with five years’ experience at Carrefour is paid €1,705 a month, gross. After Belgian taxes and social security charges are deducted, that is a brutally small amount to live on. I have not researched Belgian supermarkets in debt, but headlines have accused Carrefour of poor management in Belgium for years, and anecdotally this makes sense to me. Carrefour stores in Belgium are notably more expensive than the local market leader, Colruyt, and they are not nearly as well-stocked or attractive as Carrefour stores in France. I would be inclined to blame the fate of Carrefour workers on their senior management, who have run the company badly.
My point is political. For the moment, newspapers across the world are full of pictures of strikes in Greece, Spain and France, and photographs of anarchists punching policemen in Athens. You could easily get the impression that the ordinary workers of Europe are about to explode in rage, making it impossible for their governments to push through the painful austerity measures that are, alas, needed in so many European countries. But for the moment the reality on the ground is different. An awful lot of people on the streets are those who cannot lose their jobs, which makes them a privileged minority in a nasty recession, and they are protesting to defend perks and pay that others can only dream of. I hope European politicians are watching, and concluding that they have an opportunity here, to tell the truth to their voters about the mess they are in, and what needs to be done to fix it. I think most European voters know this is a big crisis, and though they are angry about bankers and speculators and what have you, they also know that everyone has been living beyond their means. As long as the burden is seen to fall fairly, we may get through this yet.