I missed this story last week, and it’s an important one. If you want evidence that Disaster Capitalism – the termed coined by Naomi Klein in her brilliant book “The Shock Doctrine” is still the dominant tactic of free market militants, look no further than what is being proposed in Greece. Klein proposed that prominent free market capitalists use disaster, ‘either real or perceived’ to ram through extreme free market reforms that the public would otherwise reject, and it looks like the European Central Bank, the IMF and the European Commission is trying to do just that. From Business Insider:
Greece’s eurozone creditors are demanding that the government in Athens introduce a six-day working week as part of the stiff terms for the country’s second bailout.
The demand is contained in a leaked letter from the “troika” of the country’s lenders, the European commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund. In the letter, the officials policing Greece’s compliance with the austerity package imposed in return for the bailout insist on radical labour market reforms, from minimum wages to overtime limits to flexible working hours, that are likely to worsen the standoff between the government and organised labour in Greece…..
The letter, sent last week to the Greek finance and labour ministries, orders the government to extend the working week into the weekend.
“Measure: increase flexibility of work schedules: increase the number of maximum workdays to six days per week for all sectors.
“Increase flexibility of work schedules; set the minimum daily rest to 11 hours; delink the working hours of employees from the opening hours of the establishment; eliminate restrictions on minimum/maximum time between morning and afternoon shifts; allow the consecutive two-week leave to be taken anytime during the year in seasonal sectors.”
The reforms are of course targeted at those least able to resist them – the poor and struggling middle class, while the rich are being left alone. This is a typical misdirection tactic used by free market capitalists who insist on free markets for the poor while refusing to acknowledge the heavily subsidized and protected existence of the rich. Conversely, the rich are given more benefits during times of crisis, ostensibly because they will reinvest their money back into the economy (despite the evidence showing that they don’t).
The reforms being proposed by the EC, IMF and ECB are simply another attempt by bankers to permanently disenfranchise huge sectors of the population from the economy and make them more beholden to the owners of society – ie. themselves. The proposals are basically to create giant flexible labor markets that work exclusively for the interests of the rich, and not themselves. They want Greeks to worker longer and harder for less money, while they continue to force them to pay back loans at excessive interest rates that they will never be able to afford. The result? More debt and no way out. It’s incredibly transparent, and given Greece’s tradition of trade unionism and strong protection of worker rights, thankfully it’s not going to go down very well.