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Greek workers crushed at the heel of the EU

There are many examples of how EU membership is damaging to the interests of the working class, says EDDIE MAGUIRE

A WEEKEND of action against TTIP has just shown how the EU is pushing for its implementation.

And nothing has served better to clarify the nature of the EU as an exploitative capitalist bloc than the ongoing crisis in Greece.

The EU reform programme followed the 2009 bailout of the Greek banks. The consequences have been catastrophic, with GDP falling by a third, unemployment rising to 27 per cent (for youth it’s over 60 per cent) and a third of people classified as “in poverty.”

Of the €230 billion bailout only €27bn went into the Greek economy, while over €200bn had to go to repay German, French, US and British banks.

In order to generate funds to make these repayments, the EU insisted on guarantees that Greece create a government surplus of 4.5 per cent of GDP in 2015-16.

Methods used had to satisfy the lenders — the European Central Bank (ECB), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and EU Commission.

Awareness of the nature of the EU has spread rapidly among Greeks, who now have a total lack of control over their own economy — with strong opposition to impoverishment, privatisation of state services and the erosion of collective bargaining.

Yet the flaw is that they remain wedded to the EU and its currency, an external institution representing the interests of finance capitalism.

Similar tales of woe can be found in Spain, Portugal and Ireland which should reinforce our determination to abandon the EU.

In the case of Spain we find steady erosion of traditional agricultural and manufacturing industries since it joined the EU in 1986, combined with rising unemployment. Among youth it is now over 50 per cent. Its manufacturing has been decimated.

Patricia McKenna — chair of the Irish People’s Movement which had led the campaign against the EU in the Irish referendum — spoke in Glasgow earlier this year at the AGM of the Scottish Campaign Against Euro-Federalism.

She “found it an irony that the parties supporting independence were also strongly supportive of the EU (which denied economic sovereignty and independence).”

In the face of this, the main parties campaigning in this election here in Britain seem weak and vacillating.

David Cameron’s ploy of advocating a referendum only to demand staying in the club has come unstuck with president of the European Commission Claude Juncker insisting that any treaty negotiations on Britain’s relationship with the EU would be ruled out until two years after the referendum promised by Cameron.

That’s why it will be a privilege to chair the fringe meeting at this year’s STUC that will hear the ideas of Ian Davidson MP, Jane Carolan of Unison and Mick Cash of RMT on these EU issues — and to hear Clydebank Trade Union Council and Kilmarnock and Loudon TUC propose motions on the subject.

  • Eddie McGuire writes here in a personal capacity. He is a delegate to the STUC, chair of the Scotland & Northern Ireland Region of the Musicians’ Union and chair of the Scottish Campaign Against Euro-Federalism.

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