Greeks Go On Strike To Be Allowed To Strike

According to the market, the situation in Greece has staged a tremendous recovery. So much so, in fact, that Greek 2Y bonds are now trading inside US 2Y Treasurys. Yes, according to the market, Greece is now a safer credit than the US.



And yet, a quick peek inside the actual Greek economy, reveals that nothing has been fixed. In fact, one can argue that things are now worse than they were when Greece defaulted (for the first time),

According to statistics from IAPR, unpaid taxes in Greece currently make up more than 55% of the country’s GDP due to - well - the inability of people to pay the rising taxes. Overdue debt to the state has reached nearly €100 billion with only €15 billion possible to be returned to the government’s coffers, as most are due to bankrupt businesses and deceased individuals.

The Greek tax authorities seized pensions, salaries, and assets of more than 180,000 taxpayers in 2017, meanwhile bad debt to the state treasury continue to grow. The Independent Authority for Public Revenue confiscated nearly €4 billion in the first 10 months of this year with forced measures to be reportedly taken against 1.7 million defaulters in 2018.

Bad debt owed to the state in Greece has been growing at €1 billion a month since 2014, and nearly 4.17 million taxpayers currently owe money to the country, which means that every second Greek is directly indebted.

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Demonstrating the full extent of the economic mess, a recent report from Kathimerini revealed  that Greek lenders are proposing huge haircuts, as high as 90%, for borrowers with debts from consumer loans, credit cards or small business loans without collateral.

In the context of the sale of a 2.5-billion-euro bad-loan portfolio named Venus, Alpha Bank is using the incentive of major haircuts in letters it has sent to some 156,000 debtors. The fact that this concerns some 240,000 bad loans means that some debtors may have two or three overdue loans.

Another major local lender, Eurobank, is employing the same strategy for a set of loans adding up to 350 million euros. Most of them range between 5,000 and 7,000 euros each and have been overdue for over a decade. Yes, most Greek are unable to repay a few thousands euros and would rather default.

This means that the banks are expecting to collect a small amount of those debts, coming to 250 million euros for Alpha and 35 million for Eurobank – whopping 90% haircuts - accepting that the rest of the debt is uncollectible.

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But for the most accurate representation of real state of affairs, we go to Reuters which reports that Greek subway workers, dockers and state-employed doctors plan to strike on Friday in the country's first major industrial action of 2018, to protest a new law that will restrict their right to walk off the job.

That's right, Greeks are going on strike to be allowed to strike.

On Jan. 15, parliament is expected to vote through the contentious reform, which would tighten rules on declaring work stoppages, or labor strikes, a condition set by creditors who have loaned Greece billions since 2010. At present, Greek unions can call strikes with the support of one third of their members. The new law would raise that requirement to 50 percent, which creditors hope would limit the frequency of strikes and improve productivity that lags about 20 percent behind the EU average, according to OECD data.

Don't laugh, but strikes are so common in Greece that there is a website dedicated to them.

According to Reuters, Friday's stoppage is being backed by several unions, including GSEE, the largest private-sector one. "It is essentially scrapping the only weapon workers have left to protect themselves, particularly after collective working agreements were shelved," said GSEE spokesman Dimitris Karageorgopoulos.

Stavros Kafounis, head of the Commercial Association of Athens, which represents retailers, said strikes amplified the country's economic problems.

"Every time there is labour action in public transport it shuts businesses down, adding to already slow business," he said.

A majority of lawmakers are expected to vote in favor of the bill, which will be the latest bitter pill to swallow for a government dominated by the leftist Syriza movement, which swept to power in 2015 promising to end austerity, only to accept another, deeper and more humiliating bailout just months later.

Despite the Greek people's protest against depriving them of their constitutional right to strike, Greece needs to pass the regulation and a raft of other measures for lenders to sign off on a review of progress in its bailout programme, which the country hopes to exit this summer. Otherwise all those greater fools who have been buying Greek 2Y bonds on hopes the country will soon be eligible for the ECB's QE will end up nursing massive losses.

And as if the Greeks weren't angry enough already, Monday's parliamentary bill also seeks to introduce electronic auctions that could facilitate foreclosures to wrestle down a mountain of toxic debts weighing on the country's banks, rationalise spending on state benefits, set targets for selling off assets of power utility PPC, and regulations on the operation of casinos.

In other words, with the click of a button one would get a foreclosure notice for a late mortgage payment.

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At the end of the day, of course, it's all for nothing: one union leader said that, regardless of new legislation, workers would continue to strike.

"If they don't like it let them fire us... or arrest us," said Spyros Revithis, head of a public transport workers' union that staged 15 strikes in 2017. "This government is a Trojan Horse of neo-liberalism on labour rights."

We couldn't have said it better.



Golden Showers Fri, 01/12/2018 - 03:23 Permalink

If you have ever played GO you would know what a snapback is. You would know what a monkey jump is. You would know tesuji, ko, eyes, and how to grapple.

Fuck Greece. Obviously they don't know shit and are not prepared to hack it in the modern world just like the Irish. Like I fucking care. I'm not here to help you. I'm here to help me.


BigJim Golden Showers Fri, 01/12/2018 - 04:24 Permalink

Using the Euro is the source of Greece's problems, but the citizenry just can't bear the idea of giving it up and going back to the Drachma.

A Greek friend of mine tells me it's because they saw accession into the Eurozone as a sign they were a "proper" mature country, and going back to their old, inflationary currency would indicate they're a bunch of backward hicks... as well as jeopardising their position on the EU teat. He's got a PhD in Law and fully agrees with them.

As you say, fuck Greece. Dumb cake-and-eat-it-too socialists.

In reply to by Golden Showers

inosent Fri, 01/12/2018 - 03:26 Permalink

You have to camp out at ZH to be the first to comment. They no longer have the feature to sort by last comment first, or how many comments you want when a page loads. I wish they would bring that feature back. I am not sure why they took it away. I apologize for saying the same thing, but I still don't see that feature. I like the read the latest comments first, and at least have the option. I don't what the big deal is forcing the first to post read most on ZH readers ...

libertyanyday Fri, 01/12/2018 - 03:49 Permalink

Has anyone told these saps, their country is INSOLVENT, you have no money, your checks bounce, the govt has nothing to give you..............the party is over , the lights are off.

WallHoo libertyanyday Fri, 01/12/2018 - 06:27 Permalink

Well it is hard to be solvent when someone else loans your money into existence...


Not even mentioning a currency without a state(bankers wet dream come true).A gold like currency without the gold part to keep some accountability and central bank printing press.By the way Greece as the article says is the only country that does not qualify for QE in the eurozone.Of course our friend Germany does.


Or a "free trade zone" with some mercantilist countries such as Germany dominating production and buying up assets as opposed to banana republics such as Greece that are selling,privatizing and de-industrialising.


Yeah the lights are off...

In reply to by libertyanyday

SoDamnMad libertyanyday Fri, 01/12/2018 - 07:12 Permalink

Their GDP is calculated on DEBT. If anyone paid their debt then others might have something to pay their debts. Kind of like the US GDP.  We got a lot of unsold cars held on the books as assets. That's 200,000 2015, 340,000 2016, 488,000 2017 models. If we just could get people into the lots to buy these then we would have a 2.5% GDP.  If we just could...

In reply to by libertyanyday

ZorroHedge Fri, 01/12/2018 - 03:52 Permalink

I don't understand the Greek people. They are being enslaved but are hardly fighting. When I read this, I don't understand why the country isn't burning and why politicians aren't being attacked. 

jin187 ZorroHedge Fri, 01/12/2018 - 05:11 Permalink

Not sure how they can be enslaved when they're all unemployed.  Same goes for Venezuela.  Still, I agree with you about the country burning in both cases.  People have historically revolted over much less.  Used to be that when 100k people gathered to protest mismanagement on this level, the endgame was that they all rushed the capitol, and dragged the leaders through the streets,

In reply to by ZorroHedge

WallHoo ZorroHedge Fri, 01/12/2018 - 06:38 Permalink

How many times people went on the streets?How many elections??How many political parties got destroyed for the idiotic "european vision",there was even a refferendum with a terroristic atmosphere from tv channels saying that this is the end of the world,vote yes and people still voted no...


At the end of the day you have a family to look after or your future if your young.How can you expect local citizenry to put up a continuous fight against organised oligarchs and their minions on TV,LAW,POLITICS,BANKS while being funded and backed by the EU??

In reply to by ZorroHedge

bluez Fri, 01/12/2018 - 04:07 Permalink


HardAssets Fri, 01/12/2018 - 04:18 Permalink

Banksters screwed over the Greeks by bringing them into the EU. They are screwing them over now through asset stripping & austerity that only worsens the situation. It is a move back to feudalism. This is a glimpse into the future for all bankster victimized countries, including the USA.

Easyp Fri, 01/12/2018 - 04:20 Permalink

Wrong headline ZH

Greece Should be Allowed to Go Bust....

Then they can leave the Euro, have a revolution, execute the top 100 tax evaders, sieze their assets then start over with a Singapore style President for a fixed term of 5 years.

SpanishGoop Fri, 01/12/2018 - 05:21 Permalink

"unpaid taxes in Greece currently make up more than 55% of the country’s GDP"

If they just also add "not yet milked goats" and "not yet picked olives" their GDP will be booming.


fiddy pence ha… Fri, 01/12/2018 - 06:20 Permalink

Most don't do anything against the gov,

for various reasons.

1 most of them are home owners,

with 100% equity. But if they can't pay

all the new whopping taxes, their homes

get taken and auctioned. People who have

nothing to lose, will get desperate.

2 either their parents or grandparents lived

through the nazi occupation, so they know

how to hunker down, and they don't tend

to waste money. The Germans pumped a

whole lot of money into Greece (post 2002) 

advertising and especially for consumer loans,

to try to push Greeks into debt. That was

 German bankers' idea for making more money.

German banks leant to Gr banks, who leant to Greeks.

Greeks had been

thoroughly afraid of banks, to that point,

and with good reason. The bank laws are rapacious.

3 theyre willing to eat boiled weeds

4 those who can, have left and are sending money

home. a worldwide tradition instigated by the IMF

bombing out an economy (yes, they are involved,

and making money off this).

5 they are most of them, truly confused about 

the Euro. it's the bane of their existence and

everything is still expensive. It will collapse and

then everybody will scramble to some sort of

e-cash (another coming scam).

6 they have a hometown they can escape to

and raise goats and chickens, if the city is too tough.

7 they are scared of jail, and with good reason. and the

shame it brings on the family.