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Dr Pentaraki Maria– Oslo – Welfare Campaign Conference- May 21-22 2012 Senior Lecturer of Social Work-Liverpool Hope University,

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Presentation on theme: "Dr Pentaraki Maria– Oslo – Welfare Campaign Conference- May 21-22 2012 Senior Lecturer of Social Work-Liverpool Hope University,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Dr Pentaraki Maria– Oslo – Welfare Campaign Conference- May 21-22 2012 Senior Lecturer of Social Work-Liverpool Hope University, Greek Public Debt Crisis - Global Capitalism and The consequences to the welfare state Truths and Lies The consequences to the welfare state The challenges for the trade movement and the social work profession Optimism: The rise of the Greek left

2 Contents Introduction- Global context – historical continuity Austerity Plan and SAP Consequences: A social disaster Greek Welfare State Dispelling the Myths Structural Causes of the Debt Research Summary of Findings Conclusions

3 Greek “Public Debt Crisis” and the imposed SAP Global capitalism- the larger and longer transformation of the world system, including the change in the regime of accumulation of the capital (Harvey, 2005, 2007). Part of the neoliberal global agenda.

4 Historical continuity of global neoliberal restructuring First imposed by dictatorships in countries such as Chile (Pinochet) Then imposed by IMF and WB in countries in Africa, Latin America, South East Asia, former Soviet Union/Eastern block Now imposed by IMF and EU and ECB in Greece, Ireland, Portugal in the countries of the periphery of the EU

5 Transferring of wealth from the working class people to the capital

6 Conditionalities of Loans / Structural Adjustment Program- SAP - A savage austerity program Austerity plan-conditionality of two loans “bailouts” (110 billion – 2010 and 130 billion- 2012) The loan given by IMF, ECB, EU Not a bailout but a sold out. The bailout is not to Greece but to the German and French banks. According to official estimates of SAP outcomes, by 2015, the amount of public money allocated to servicing the debt will be higher than the amount of public money allocated to social protection and healthcare (MTFS, 2011) Reflects entrenchment of neoliberal policies to the Greek society.

7 Neo-liberal Policies 20% to 62% social spending cuts Deregulation of labor relations Massive job losses Decrease of pensions and salaries- from 20% to 40%. – EU representatives announced that the goal is to get Bulgarian wages of 150 euros Privatization of public infrastructure/ utilities – Privitization Fund run by Treuhand (sold off E.Germany) – Containment of democratic rights

8 Social disaster and political disaster Humanitarian crisis: Approx 20.000 homeless in Athens 25% rise since 2 years ago. Poor-hungry-no access to health care.250.000 a day eat with hand outs ef

9 Political Disaster- Annulment of Democracy Non elected prime minister- representative of the global ruling elite- TRILATERAL COMMISSION- from November 2011 to May 2012. During demonstrations – Illegal chemical warfare -health problems – Immense violence –hospitalizations- chronic health consequences

10 Consequences- Human Development Index (UN Human Development Progress Report 2011) Greece’s ranking fell from the 22 nd to the 29th position (7 ranking places lost).. Norway is 1 st. Life expectancy, schooling, gross national income, etc

11 Consequences 2.500 schools closed, no heating, no maintenance Hospitals merging, less beds, less staff Households with no water and electricity, back to candles and coals People in Greece among the lowest income earners in EU Before the economic crisis 1/5 of the population lived under poverty line. Now 1/3 officially impoverished.

12 Consequences- Unemployment rate (Eurostat, 2012) Highest increases in EU between January 2011 and January 2012 were registered in: – Greece from 14.7 % to 21.7 % (7% rise) – Spain from 20.8 % to 24.1 % – Cyprus 6.9 % to 10.0 %. EU27 unemployment rate from 9.4% (March 2011) to 10.2% (March 2012) EU 27 youth unemployment rate 22.1% (2011) Greek youth unemployment rate 49.3%


14 Health consequences Suicide rate rose by 22% from 2009 to 2011. (Dimitris Christoulias, a 76 year old pensioner) Children hospitalizations due to pain aches increased by 10-15% Increase in HIV infections rose by 52% since 2010 due to shared needles among drug users and then in increase of prostitution. 1/3 of street programs were closed Compared with 2007—ie, before the crisis—2009 saw a significant increase in people reporting that they did not go to a doctor or dentist despite feeling that it was necessary, mostly due to long waiting lists because of undefunding and understaffing (Kentikelenis, 2011 et al) Children with uninsured parents do not get vaccinations- prediction for the rise of preventable diseases Children faint at school due to hunger and (Source: Press release of the 28 th Greek National Medical Conference, 14 th -16 th of May 2012; Pentaraki, 2012; Kentikelenis A., M.Karanikolos,I. Papanicolas, S. Basu, M. McKee, D. Stuckler (2011) )

15 Greek Welfare State Delayed development. Never reached maturity. Unmet needs, 20% poverty rate. Ineffective social transfers to reduce poverty.

16 Greek Welfare State 1. A fragmented and corporatist income maintenance system. 2. A partial universal health care system. 3. A low degree of state penetration in the welfare area and a mix between public and non-public actors and institutions 4. The persistence of clientelism and-in some cases- the formation of fairly elaborate patronage systems before the selective distribution of cash subsidies. (Ferrera, 1996)

17 Basic features of the austerity plan are along neoliberal economic restructuring undermining welfare rights 1. reduction of current and future pension incomes and social assistance benefits, 2. significant cuts in social services, from 20% to 62% 3. introduction of a flat, so-called “ticket payment” for health services, 4. promotion of private provision within the National Health Care System. Additional, undermining collective bargaining agreements, privatization of public assets etc.

18 Myths Highest Number of Public Employees Most Generous Welfare State Greek state is the most wasteful in European Union Most Lazy people

19 Myth: Highest Number of Public Employees- Ranking public employment shares in the EU17, US and Japan Country Publ. Empl. Share in 2002 1. Sweden 30.0 2. Denmark 29.0 3. Finland 22.4 4. France 21.2 5. United Kingdom 17.8 6. Portugal 17.0 7. Belgium 16.8 8. Luxembourg 14.9 9. Czech Republic 14.8 10. United States 14.7 11. Italy 14.4 12. Spain 13.0 13. Austria 12.2 14. Poland 12.1 15. Greece 11.4 16. Ireland 11.0 17. Netherlands 10.7 18. Germany 10.2 19. Japan 8.1 (Source: OECD, 2003 cited in Handler, et al 2005)

20 Myth: Greece has one of the most generous welfare states As far as social spending on benifits in kind per head in PPS Greece ranks third from the bottom of the hierachy of the EU15 countries (Petmesidou,2006a :325). While as the percentage of the total social budget, welfare expediture decreased reaching 2.1 percent in 2003 (Petmesidou,2006a:329).

21 Chart below ranks countries following the impact of social transfers on the at-risk-of-poverty rate before social transfers, in percentage of the latter.



24 Myth: Greek state is the most wasteful in European Union Greek state is the most wasteful in European Union whereas its operating costs correspond to 17,3% of the Greek GNP, as against 19,9% for Germany, 24% for France, and 23,7% for Great Britain, and a European average of 21,8% (Vergopoulos, 2010 cited in Sakellaropoulos, 2010:323)

25 Myth: Greek state is the most wasteful in European Union. CountryOperating costs in relation to the GNP Greece17,3% Germany19,9% France24% UK23,7% European Average21,8% Source: (Vergopoulos, 2010 cited in Sakellaropoulos, 2010:323)

26 Myth: Greek people are lazy Greece has the longest working hours as well as the highest number of working days per week among Europe 15 and among 32 European countries Greece is among the three most hard working countries, along with Turkey and Romania (European Foundation of the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, 2005:18).

27 Other myths and role of myths Greek people are corrupted Greek culture is at fault PIIGS and so on Myths serve to relocate the blame from the structural causes to the individual

28 Structural Causes/ Contributing factors to the public debt Military spending: One of the 20 countries with the largest military budget, 3,6% of its GPA, (Russia- 3,5%) (USA spends-4,3%) (SIPRI 2010). Bank Bailouts: 28 billions, 2008. 78 billions out of the 110 b for the support of the banking system. Unfair System of Taxation: Corporate taxation from 45% 1981 to 24% 2010, to 18% in 2012. Among the lowest in EU. Business Highest Profit Margin: 40%, EU from 10% to 35%. Highest Gini Co-efficiency- Highest Level of Inequality

29 1 st SOLD OUT of 110 billion….Some simple math….. Low corporate taxation rate –if EU aver-in a decade Greek state would have 95 billion euros Cost of hosting Olympic Games in 2004 11.2 billion euros Banking Bailout of 200928 billion euros +++++ TOTAL =144 billion euros + highest military spending, + multinational corporations bribes (ie,Siemens) + no taxes of Greek orthodox church and ship magnates Capitalism for the poor Socialism for the rich 2nd sold out 130 billion 100 to debt servi sing and bond holders. 162 billion owned by Germany (108-54)

30 A bad deficit made worse for political purposes by the Greek government/ Eurostat/ IMF Apart from these lies, there is another attempt to build consent, suggested by allegations that the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSAT), along with Eurostat, made a bad deficit worse for political purposes. These allegations are under investigation by a Greek prosecutor as crimes committed against the national economy (Giamali, 2011). It is interesting to add that the director of ELSAT is a former IMF senior officer. Additionally, to ensure that the Greek government implements the program, they institutionalized a non-elected prime minister in Greece, Papademos, who has been a member of the trilateral commission; same is the case with Mondy, the imposed prime minister in Italy. Both are managers of financial capital. Their imposition presents a big democratic deficit and an undermining of democracy. The trilateral commission reflects the agenda of the new right and of global capital and is actively attempting to promote the interests of the market thoughout the world (Jones and Novack, 1999: 135  137)

31 Research In depth interviews to public sector social workers from Sept 2010 to Sep 2011.

32 Findings Chronic under funding and understaffing worsen under the ESAP social spending budget cuts. Difficulties to fulfilling even the most basic activities of supporting people in dire need. Office bound practice. Increased dependence on informal networks of support. Emergence of ethical issues. Drastic increase of the case load due to the rising numbers of unemployed/uninsured people that seek support as well as due to colleagues retiring and the freezing imposed on hiring staff.

33 Conclusions Policies incompatible with human needs. The myth of social europe is shattered but the fight for a social europe is on. Necessity to revisit the radical legacy of social work profession. Resist Cuts –Demand a Human needs based budget. SW associations join forces and make alliances with trade unions and other social justice organizations both locally and globally.

34 Conclusions It is evident that there is a class war going on. The social work definition adopted by IFSW and IASSW reflects a profession equipped to work towards goals of social justice. Now that we recognize the inter- connections of local and global process (Dominelli 2010) is more than evident the need to build coalitions both across local/national and international lines (Ferguson and Lavalette 2006∙ Ife, 2008) in order to overturn the neo-liberal global agenda since it cannot be combined with issues of social and economic justice. This is the only way that we can restore the welfare state in Greece by linking it to struggles across the world.

35 Conclusion :Another world is possible; a world fighting for.. A big responsibility to win this class war lies with the trade union movement in coalition building with all the progressive forces across our common needs. This coalition building needs to happen in local, in national, in European, and in global levels. This is the way to unity people’s power across borders We need a Social Europe, we need a world centered around human needs. This means that we need a redistribution of the wealth in order to overthrow class inequalities. We can make that happen because we know another world is possible, and this is a world worth fighting for.

36 Conclusions The rise of the Greek left during last elections brings optimism. The people have spoken loud and clear. We are not accepting the austerity measures that transfer huge resources from the working class people to the capital. We are not accepting the rise of inequalities. We are not accepting the commodification of the public services, such as health care. We are not accepting the cuts of our pensions. We are not accepting job losses. We are not accepting a society of insecurity, of unemployment, of poverty. We are not accepting a society of sexism, of racism, of homophobia or any other form inequalities. Another world is possible!

37 Bibliography Dominelli, L. (2010). Globalization, contemporary challenges and social work practice. International Social Work, 53 (5) 599- 612 European Foundation of the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (2005). European Working Conditions Survey. Avalaible at: apter2.pdf. Accesesed: October 5th 2010 apter2.pdf Eurostat (2011) Living conditions statistics Available at: Living_conditions_statistics Accessed March 30 2011 Living_conditions_statistics Accessed March 30 2011 Eurostat (2012) Unemployment statistics From Statistics Explained Available at php/Unemployment_statistics [accessed 12 May 2012] php/Unemployment_statistics

38 Bibliography Ferrera, M. (1996) ’The "Southern Model" of Welfare in Social Europe, Journal of European Social Policy 6 (1): 17-38. Fondeville N., T. Ward (2011) Homelessness during the crisis. European Commission, Directorate- General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. notes/SSO%20RN8%20Homelessness_Final.pdf [ 12 May 2012) Giamali, A., 2011. Hellenic Statistical Authority: Did Eurostat Make a Bad Deficit Worse, for Political Purposes? Avgi, [online] Available at [Accessed 18 February 2012]. Kentikelenis A., M.Karanikolos,I. Papanicolas, S. Basu, M. McKee, D. Stuckler (2011) Health effects of financial crisis: omens of a Greek tragedy The Lancet ( Vol. 378, Issue 9801, Pages 1457-1458 6736%2811%2961556-0/fulltext

39 Bibliography Petmesidou, M. (2006a). ‘Social Care Services: ‘Catching Up’ Amidst High Fragmentation and Poor Initiatives for Change’, in M. Petmesidou and E. Mossialos (eds) Social Policy Developments in Greece, pp.319- 357. Aldershot: Ashgate. Petmesidou, M. (2006b) ‘Tracking Social Protection: Origins, Path Peculiarity, Impasses and Prospects’. in M. Petmesidou and E. Mossialos (eds) Social Policy Developments in Greece, pp.25-54. Aldershot: Ashgate. Sakellaropoulos, S. (2010) “ The Recent Economic Crisis in Greece and the Strategy of Capital”, Journal of Modern Greek Studies, 28:321-348. United Nations (2011). “Human Development Report 2011. Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All”. Available at: [Accessed at 17th of November 2011]

40 People of Europe UNITED to fight for a SOCIAL EUROPE


42 Enough is Enough! A new world is possible!

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