Greek anti-austerity strikes mushroomed on Wednesday as both public and private unions teamed up for massive strikes that cut bus services and halted all but emergency flights to and from Greece.
How many billions of dollars in lost economic output does this cause? Germany and France must be wondering since it’ll most likely be paid off by their tax dollars:
The 24-hour walkout is the first joint strike called by public and private unions, representing half of Greece’s workforce of 5 million, since the Socialist government won elections in October.
Central Athens was covered on Wednesday in posters and flyers calling for Greeks to strike to the slogan “People and their needs above markets!” Some shops had their shutters down and the capital’s chaotic traffic was quieter than usual.
“We ask the government not to give in to the desires of the markets, to set people’s needs as a priority and adopt a mix of economic and social policies that won’t lead to recession but to jobs,” said Yannis Panagopoulos, head of the private sector union GSEE.
We all wish we could be immune to markets, just as we wish we could be immune to the harsher sides of weather and health.
Yet for too long Greece’s debt binge shielded these unions, so much so that they’ve come to believe that markets are simply an imaginary force. The system worked for a while, but now the government that shielded these people is near-insolvent. Work stoppages will only make Greece’s economic situation worse. The country needs to produce more, not less, if it wants to maintain even its current level of consumption.