A recent strike by seamen at Greece’s Piraeus (its main port) threw off schedules for ferries, which link Greece to its many islands. Both Piraeus and Greece’s other main commercial port are now up for sale.
George Vlachos, the Captain and President of the Panhellenic Association of Commercial Vessel Captains, shares his stance on the reforms.
Captain George Vlachos says,”These reforms will be the end of Greek sailors. Passenger ships are just the beginning. Furthermore, they want to abolish the sacred right to strike. This law is, in reality, prohibiting strikes – which are the worker’s constitutional right.”
The bailout is also contingent upon Greece selling state assets. The deal includes other public sector reforms, too. But such tight rules have left Greece trekking very slowly… six months, to be exact. But the government has finally reached terms, though the main opposition party still has arms raised high. Syriza (the opposition party) walked out of the latest reform bill debate.
Syriza’s party leader Alexis Tsipras says, “What you are trying to do is to sell off the country piece by piece to domestic and foreign interests in exchange for the support of creditors… in order to try and avoid your downfall in the May European elections.”
The government reduced its majority in parliament to a measly two seats when it ousted a dissenting lawmaker. What’s more, two deputies refused to consent to the bill. The public sentiment is getting increasingly angry… and the government is walking on egg shells.
Valanti Efpatridis, an 42-year-old insurance sales person, says, “They have crippled us, they have taken away our dignity, our children are hungry. This can’t go on any longer.”
But come May, Greece needs to cough up 9.3 billion euros for debt, after which many believe the country can finally move forward. Senior Economist, Christian Schulz, of Berenberg Bank shares his outlook.
Christian Schulz says, “The shift in the troika program has shifted away from austerity and potentially excessive towards a structural reform, and this was probably the last big tough package to approve in parliament. The fact that the government majority is smaller shows you that there is not much more room for such crunch votes to go through.”
Greece will have had $218 billion of its $237-billion-euro bailout once the euro zone finance ministers approve this installment. The next government target is further debt relief… maybe another Greece reform is down the line.