Thursday, March 13, 2008

Got blackmail? Apparently, it works!

I don’t pretend to know as much about strike action as Europeans do because, let’s face it, I’m American. However, I do have some concept about what constitutes mistreatment of labor and what is right. Yes, the pension system in Greece is all kinds of effed up. Yes, a big part of the blame is on the government, but in my mind it is because they didn’t adopt a single system of benefits for pensions years ago. But striking for weeks, causing consistent power outages throughout the country, letting trash pile up on the streets – not because you want the government to do what is right, but because you just don’t want them to mess with YOUR stash - is pretty messed up. To add to it, striking workers are throwing trash at police, making filthy streets even filthier, and I have to wonder if the human race isn’t devolving a bit here. Greeks have a wonderful propensity for giving when tragedies occur, but when it comes to working rights and pensions (and the workings of the government in general), they seem to be very egocentric.

And so, in the thick of this political quagmire, the government is caving and looking at reforms. Hey, people might be able to retire after 37 years on the job even if they haven’t yet reached the ripe, entirely useless to society age of 57. Fifty-seven. If only hard working Americans could retire at such a young age. When people can retire so young, no wonder money is running out in some pension accounts! God forbid workers strike for golden toilets, feather beds, and houses made of cheese, they might just get it. When you hold the country hostage, the government has to comply to your demands.

I do think people should have the right to strike, but holding out on crucial services, putting your country at risk of a blackout, or a public health hazard – basically keeping other hard working people from living and enjoying their lives – is nothing but cold hard blackmail. These unions won’t even offer an alternative solution to the pension reforms the government is proposing. That is because these unions want what they want with no compromises. Greece is never going to get anywhere when people have this kind of attitude. If your pay is below poverty level and you haven’t had a raise in two years – then strike. If you aren’t allowed any breaks in an eight hour shift – then strike. If you are forced to work overtime with no extra pay – then strike.

God bless Greece. I hope she comes out of this alive.


Cheryl said...

I knew that it was only a matter of time before you would post about the strikes. Great post! It's irritating and really, really unjust. I've sort of gotten used to doing things just "in case" the power gets cut. It's hard for everyone and I hope that- by some miracle-it's all over soon. Take care Mel!

CaliforniaKat said...

Us lowly people getting unfair treatment and unfair wages unfortunately cannot strike even though we are in our right to do so because we risk losing our jobs/permits, whereas public sector workers have jobs for life (or as long as they want them) no matter what they do.

In NYC, it's against the law to strike since 1966 because the city loses 1 billion a day. A subway strike alone affects 6 million workers handling who knows how much business and millions worldwide. Any worker participating in a strike is docked double his pay per day.

I realize Greece is nowhere on that scale, and btw it never will be if it continues to show the world it is not worthy. People earning more than me, treating me badly and denying me services I paid for with hard earned money are also not doing anything to get in my good graces by striking or protesting.

No one should not be able to hold a country and its economy hostage. I often forget this is a NATO/EU country, which I suppose is easy to do when it acts backward.

CaliforniaKat said...

P.S. Working mothers can retire at 50. Unbelievable!!!