Thursday, 16 December 2010

Greece in turmoil

A bill introducing reforms in the public and private sectors was due to be passed through Parliament late last night, just hours after Prime Minister George Papandreou’s meetings with opposition party leaders highlighted the lack of consensus on the changes being undertaken by the government.

Papandreou’s efforts to build consensus between party leaders proved largely unsuccessful. All three of the leaders he met – Aleka Papariga of the Communist Party, Giorgos Karatzeferis of Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) and Antonis Samaras of New Democracy – said they found little or no common ground with the government. “There was no consensus on anything,” said Papariga. “We think that the real battle will start now because the workers will realize that there is no point in negotiating over how much they are going to lose.”

Samaras said ND would continue to support any “common sense” measures, underlining that the conservatives had voted for 33 of the government’s bills. But he added that “consensus is complicity.” Samaras said he was opposed to the bypassing of collective contracts as that would lead to “medieval working conditions.”

The announcement of the new measures affecting working conditions sparked violent riots in Athens.