The ruling Syriza party’s MPs are absorbing the backlash from the omnibus bill that was tabled in parliament yesterday and which meets 50 preconditions for creditors to officially close the third evaluation of the current bailout memorandum.
The draft legislation provides for future pension cuts and slashes the tax-free ceiling for individual taxpayers.
Moreover, the draft legislation will cut back family social welfare benefits, a measure that Syriza MPs know will have a political cost in their districts, when election time comes around.
That has occurred before with this and previous crisis-era governments, whose MPs passionately denounce the measures that creditors have imposed upon the country, only to vote for the dread measures in parliament the next day, so as not to topple the government and in order to keep their parliamentary seat.
Perhaps the most controversial measure in this omnibus bill for ruling party MPs is a provision making it exceedingly difficult for trade unions to declare strikes.
The first Syriza MP to come out against the strike provision was Yannis Theonas, but there general unease within the parliamentary group due to the backlash over the measure.
At a protest yesterday outside the prime minister’s Maximos Mansion office, one demonstrator punched a police officer in the eye, sending him to hospital.
In the first major change to the law governing labour action since 1982, after socialist Andreas Papandreou swept to power, the new law more than doubles the percentage of registered primary union members who must vote for a strike, from 20 percent to 50 percent plus one vote, with the further requirement that they be up to date with their dues.
The measure has an extreme negative symbolism for the left-wing party, as it limits inordinately the use of labour’s last and most fundamental right, and in so doing, deals yet another, major blow to the left wing credentials of Alexis Tsipras, his party, and his MPs.
The violent incursion yesterday of the Greek Communist Party linked PAME unionists in the office of Labour Minister Effie Achtsioglou was opening salvo in what promises to be a protracted social battle this year, not least because of the thousands of homes that will hit the auction block to pay past debts to the taxman, banks, and insurance funds.
The new law will greatly facilitate – at the behest of Greece’s lenders – the carrying out of auctions, in a bid to drastically reduce the huge amounts of non-performing loans in the portfolio of private Greek banks, which are about to undergo another round of crash tests, with uncertain results.