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Congress criticises Government 'failure' to support Greece on debt resolution

Date Released: 19 February 2015

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions today (February 19) strongly criticised the government for its failure to be ‘more sympathetic’ to attempts by Greece to secure a resolution of its debt problem, at European level.

In a letter to the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Minister of Finance, Congress General Secretary David Begg voiced concern at “the attitude being adopted at the European Council towards the Greek people,” by the Irish government.

A copy of the letter has been circulated to Greek union federations affiliated to the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).

Reflecting debate at a recent meeting of the Congress Executive Council, Mr Begg said:

“In view of the fact that Ireland has suffered so much at the hands of the Troika, and has incurred a high level of debt by acceding to ECB demands to socialise bank debt, we are surprised that the Government is not more sympathetic to the Greek case.

He notes that commitments given on Ireland’s debt have yet to be fulfilled:

“Recalling that creditor countries resiled from commitments made to Ireland on sovereign debt at the June 2012 European Council, it is difficult to understand why we should align with them against Greece.  Even from a purely self-interested standpoint we should support any initiative that leads to a more realistic EU position on debt.

Mr Begg’s letter said persisting with failed austerity programmes made no social or economic sense:

“It seems to us that the level of Greek public debt is unsustainable and, in these circumstances, the imposition on a continuing basis of extreme austerity measures is both pointless and vindictive.  In particular, the demand for Greece to increase its primary surplus from 1.5 percent to 4.5 percent cannot be done without further adding to the enormous social cost.

“It must be clear to everyone at this stage that Greece will require a substantial write-down in its public debt,” Mr Begg says.  

“In our view it will not play well with ordinary European workers to see the Greek Government oppressed because it does not believe in the orthodoxy of current austerity policies which, in any event, are clearly a disaster.  There is a real danger that a continuation of this approach will so undermine support in European integration that it will eventually be no longer viable,” Mr Begg concluded.

The full text of the letter is available here: http://www.ictu.ie/download/pdf/letter_to_taoiseach_re_greek_crisis.pdf


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