Greeks give up hope as further austerity measures loom

 
Thousands of people hit the streets on Tuesday, June 28, for a two day strike in protest against the proposition of greater austerity measures. Our Observers in the country tell us what life is like as Greece strives to tighten its purse strings.
 
Thousands of protesters hit the streets in the Greek capital Athens on June 28, to demonstrate against further austerity measures.
 
These latest strikes come as the government prepares to vote on Prime Minister George Papandreou’s 28 billion euro austerity programme, which reportedly would see taxes hiked, wage cuts and the privatisation of 50 billion euros worth of state assets.
 
Papandreou argues that these stringent measures are necessary, as the country risks not only losing a 12 billion euro loan from the IMF and EU which would allow it to pay off its expenses through the summer, but also the possibility of defaulting and consequently reeking havoc on the euro zone economy if the austerity programme is not adopted.
 
However, more than a year after the country passed a first round austerity measures in an effort to combat its deepening economic woes, life in the country has not improved and Greeks have turned out en masse to say ‘no more’.
 
Police use teargas against protesters in Athens.
 
Protesters rally in front of the Parliament building in Athens. Photos published by janinel83 on Twitter on June 28.

“Being unemployed is actually very typical in Greece right now”.

Niki Diogou is a PhD student at the University of the Agean, and lives in Athens.
 
I’ve been officially unemployed for the last year, because I haven’t received [funding for my PhD programme] yet, and so I’m completely broke. Being unemployed is actually very typical in Greece right now.
 
Unemployment in Athens has been a problem for many years, but this last year it has been really bad. For people who have just graduated and are looking for a job, it’s hard to find one, but there’s also lots of people who are getting fired. In my field, which is the environment, well, it’s no longer a priority, which makes it even harder.
 
In the beginning [after the first austerity measures were passed], when people were fired after a certain number of years working at a company, the government gave them some money - not [a lot], but  a little support. But this amount has decreased and now it’s harder to get. And of course, after a year you don’t get anything at all.
 
It’s ridiculous. For example the price of gas or heating oil, which are important during the winter, is so expensive. It’s the same or even higher than the prices [in other European countries] and the salaries are so low that it’s difficult to keep up. I think there’s going to be another migration like there was in the 1960s.
 
With my friends for example, we don’t go out anymore. Even my friends who have jobs don’t have enough money – everyone is so limited [by financial constraints]. People don’t know what to hope for anymore, because it looks like this crisis isn’t going to go away soon.
 
[Because] I’m unemployed, [when] I look into the future I wonder, what if I want to have a family? What if…? It makes you really insecure. Already [being unemployed] makes me stay in more, I have less activities. It makes you worry and I hesitate to do anything because what if I have to take the car? It’s so expensive to pay for the gas.
 
I would have been happy to leave the Greek situation [and almost did at one point] because it’s miserable for everyone. But at the same time I love my country, and I feel really bad saying that.
 
It is true that Greeks don’t pay their taxes. People who are doctors, who are lawyers – these are not your average Greek - live in expensive homes, but when it comes to declaring their taxes they say they’ve earned the salary of a cleaning lady.
 
I can say that I’m happy that taxes have increased on luxury items because these people had to pay. But now it’s not just these types of people who have to pay higher taxes – it’s everyone".

“I don’t know anything about economics, but it doesn’t seem like the government knows anything either”.

Protesters turn out in the streets of Greece's northern city Thessaloniki on June 28. Photo published on Twitter by  @Argos_t on June 28.
 
Tom Tziros is an unemployed Greek citizen living in the northern city Thessaloniki, country’s second largest city.
 
Nowadays I’m unemployed. I was working as an IT manager for 20 something years, and four months ago I lost my job.
 
The worst part of the [austerity] measures is that no one has any hope anymore. I lost hope in March 2010. I don’t know anything about economics, but it doesn’t seem like the government knows anything either.
 
They’ve done idiot stuff. And now they have new measures that are worse! When I was working I paid for unemployment, and now that I’m unemployed I get 454 euros per month for one year. If this measure passes, then there will be a new tax imposed on everyone’s 2010 income to pay for unemployment in 2011. I worked in 2010, but now I don’t. So I have to pay money for this tax, which means [even though I’m unemployed], I have to pay for my own unemployment. This is absurd!
 
My wife’s working and we’re just coping by paying our debts. My wife is a German citizen, and by the end of this summer I’ll probably leave to go to Germany. There are a lot of people leaving Greece – it’s a new immigration wave".
 

“This year is the first year I haven’t been able to pay my taxes.”

Giota Gioli, 46, is self employed and lives in Athens. She’s also a member of Greece’s leftist SEK party (the Greek Socialist Worker’s party) and organises civil participation in demonstrations.
 
[The austerity measures] have given me a sense of solidarity - doing the same thing, being in the same square and having the same aims and the same hate for this government as other people. We feel deceived by this government.
 
I’m in the music business. I have a small record company, an independent record company. [Lately] I have less requests to make cds because people have no money to produce them. Almost every house in Greece has someone unemployed. In fact, we just learned last week that there are more unemployed people than there are employed.
 
This year is the first year I haven’t been able to pay my taxes and I haven’t been able to pay my retirement. It’s a lot of money, and no, I haven’t paid my taxes for the first time in my life.
 
If you don’t pay taxes you get a lot of interest and it doesn’t go away. I’m very worried because I don’t know what’s going to happen.
 
A lot of people now go to Chinese shops for clothes, sheets and household items because it’s cheaper. People don’t buy many things, and if they do it’s from cheaper places and they buy less. Until now, we haven’t seen a black market. Not yet, but who knows in the months to come?”
 
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Rachel Holman.

Comments

Kalispera Giota, if you have

Kalispera Giota,
if you have a small record company why don't you document on the greek punk and hardcore scene. It's diverse, most of them are fantastic musicians and they all have something to say. O.k. most of them don't exist anymore but that doesn't mean that they should stay unheard for ever.
May be get into contact with wipe-out records and then with alternative tentacles (jello biafra will love the shit). As long as some of the profits go to the prisoners or other victims of the regime there speaks nothing against starting a new cult, the cult of rebeticore...

"give up hope"?

i wanted to comment on the title rather than the ayes and nays of this article.
I am not Greek, i was not born here, but i will undoubtedly die here and whilst this is not my country it is my home.
i have a business here, i pay taxes here and i have felt the hand of governance delve into my pocket.
i see the distress, the worry, the consternation and the fear of those around me as well as i feel it myself. i fear for my daughters, one coming up to four and one soon to be born, i fear for my wife, all of them greek to the core.
how will my daughters be educated when theres no schools or teachers?
where will we go if one of my loved ones are ill and i cant afford to pay the doctor or buy the medicines?
how will i go to work if i cant afford fuel and how will i feed my family if i am so overburdened with tax?
these are some of the questions i ask myself and i know these and questions like them are being asked in 90% of households in Greece right now, however, i can say now that we have NOT given up hope. the international communities seem to have forgotten the resilience of this nation. the strength of its people and culture and that when backed into a corner and all seems lost these people are capable of the impossible. as churchill said
"Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks"
the international press reports the issues in greece as if its a few minor disruptors carrying on against the might and right of the goverment, yet, the government of this country are not looking after the interests of greece and her peoples, merely acting according to the wishes of the international community to appease bankers and creditors and stabilise the eurozone until it can stand our inevitable default.
the future and inheritance of the youth of this country is being auctioned in a firesale and heist of monumental proportions.
my point is this:
we have not given up hope and we, and i mean we, as i will stand alongside those who choose to fight, will defend the future of our children and ourselves with every last drop of strength, courage and drop of blood until the bitter end.

greek taxes

the old saying that you can" go to the well to many times " may be true. you cannot take out more than you put in.

Tough love

It is sad to see what is occuring in Greece, at the same time, these are the reforms that had to occur over 20 years ago.
I haev lived in Greece and as a Greek Australian I found daily corruption, the fakelaki culture, the lack of real governance.
It is a pity that such a beautiful nation has been so badly governed for so long. Equally frustrating is the fact that many of Greece's citizens, the ones that are now rioting are complicit in the collapse - Greeks seem to lack civic responsibility
I hope that in due course things can change

malaka

It's always funny to listen to these pissed off former Greeks living in Australia, Amerika aso. Instead of falling into the backs of your people you could start with translating greek leaflets, communiques etc because revolutionaries worldwide need direct translation. So to not forget your benefit because that's it you care about most: After the revolution you can use your skills on greek literature.
But first go into the next reserve camp and ask the true owners of the land you're squatting for a visum!

Reply to comment | The FRANCE 24 Observers

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You have lived in Greece, for

You have lived in Greece, for how long?
You say that many of Greece's citicens that are now rioting are complicit in the collapse, this is an assumption based in?
Have you been there with the rioters? Did you shared their lack of hope? Did you saw young people at the age of 20 without future?
When you where in Greece did you protest for the daily corruption? Did you sue somebody for the fakelaki culture?
You are a Greek Australian, so you have hope. Your father probably left for Australia during 50's because there was no hope here, but he was young. I will emigrate at my 47 because still there is no hope and mainly because nothing will change. Those politicians are part of the problem and not part of the solution.
The rioters are also demanding true democracy, not only less taxes

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