OPINION

Excessive demands

The wave of strikes sweeping the country has once again shown the effect of the overall climate on political and economic affairs. In this particular case, the Simitis government bears a grave responsibility, since it is its own actions that have managed to open Pandora’s box. The government has given the impression that it is willing to give everything away for the sake of electoral expediency, or to be precise, that it will submit readily to strike action. In other words, various social groups believe it is the right time to demand satisfaction for their demands, whether just or excessive. Political responsibility, because of the government’s obvious attempt at electoral populism, is just one side of the story. There is also the fact that public finances threaten to be derailed, if this has not already happened. It is no coincidence that the prime minister himself, his government faced with strikes, was forced to do an about-turn, obviously realizing, even at this late stage, that his original tactics had deprived him of a great deal of credibility and that he is in immediate danger of losing more than he has won, even in the sphere of electoral influence. Appeals for self-control, and Simitis’s own declaration that his government will not bow to pressure, are not enough to stem the tide of strikes. In cases such as these, damage is easily done, but repairing it requires a great deal of time and effort and naturally entails a political cost for the government. But that is of little importance. The crucial issue here is to safeguard the already shaky fiscal balance. This applies to society as a whole and to each sector separately. Workers who are on strike or about to do so should weigh the potential effects of their demands on society, since those who are striking belong, as a rule, to the broader public sector. We should remind them that their productivity does not appear to be very high – although the truth is that they are not solely to blame. Therefore their arguments are not always very convincing. In any case, overreaching the economy’s level of tolerance will turn against society. That is why at moments such as these, self-control constitutes a display of social responsibility.