OPINION

On strikes and north African unrest

Lighting strikes

I believe that the transport trade unions need to be very cautious about the current wave of strike action. Disrupting public transport interrupts the normal day-to-day business of the economy. Companies, including transport companies, businesses and shops all lose money, resulting in a decrease in revenue from VAT and other taxes for the government. This is money the government needs to pay back to the EU and the IMF. If these institutions perceive there is a threat that the Greek government will not be able to meet its financial obligations, they will force the government to introduce legislation to reform trade union laws to prevent this from happening. This has happened in other countries, although not necessarily at the behest of the EU or IMF. One example is Ireland, where the 1990 Industrial Relations Act curbed the power of trade unions. This legislation introduced a requirement for secret ballots, third-party mediation (the Labour Court) before a strike can happen and potential sequestration of union funds to compensate the employer if unofficial strikle action is undertaken by a union or unions. Considering that the current austerity measures are being forced on the government by the EU and IMF, it would be no surprise if they seek further measures in terms of unpalatable industrial relations legislation to protect their investment in Greece. Of course, whether the government would be able to enact this type of legislation without a breakdown in social order is another matter. However, even the suggestion that these types of laws might be introduced would change the agenda and put the unions on the back foot, fiighting against reforms related to trade unions rather than reform of the sectors where they represent the workers.

JERRY MELINN

“Is a strike day a paid day?» is the title of the February 1, 2011 editorial.

However, much more interesting is the answer to this question which I have asked myself since I came to this country. I Just forgot to do do some research in this direction. I am very glad that you have clarified this matter. I have been answering myself since a long time why these guys are striking so easily, especially on Fridays, days before a holiday etc, isn?t it nice to get your prolonged weekend etc financed by the taxpayer?

In all countries in the EU the one who strikes is NOT paid. Maybe this is not a part of PASOK??s policy.

Thanks for your answer in your paper or by return mail. I am sure you know the answer. Thanks.

Gerhard Fischer

Evacuation of Greeks from Egypt

Allow me to object to the use of the words of «operation» and «evacuation» because it would lead to the idea that a mass exodus is in the making. I have spoken to several people in Egypt during the last few days and I would be bold enough to venture that the vast majority of Greeks there, the Egyptiote Greeks who have been living there since birth, are not considering leaving the country. I used to be one of those Greeks — I have lived in Greece for over 30 years now — but I was there when Nasser died and Sadat came to power and I do know how it feels. I also suspect that for all the fear and anxiety that the present situation may make them feel, leaving their homes cannot be on most people’s minds. So, please, do not overemphasize the decision of some to leave the country.

MARIA ADAMANTIDOU

CYPRUS