28 January 2014
Yesterday, 27 January 2014, the ETUC brought to light the results of their investigation into the activities of the Troika in various countries.
For those who are unaware, the Troika refers to the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank. These three forces represent a group of international lenders who impose a number of austerity measures in return for providing bailouts to indebt European countries.
The countries who have been most affected by the Troika have been, Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus, and Greece. However their measures have affected many more countries than those listed.
The ETUC conducted a report of the effects of the Troika in Cyprus, Greece, Ireland and Portugal and showed that those countries controlled by the Troika have suffered greatly socially and economically.
As a result the ETUC want to ensure that the Troika’s policies of austerity and deregulation do not reoccur in the future and set demands that include amendments to the existing programmes and mechanisms.
One of the reoccurring trends in the report is that elected governments are being taken over by the Troika. Moreover, despite disagreeing with the policies imposed by the Troika, Government’s and workers have had to implement them and have suffered economically as a result. This is a clear violation and undermining of democracy as citizens have voted for a specific government yet they are being forced to implement rules that they did not vote for due to the Troika taking over the levers of economic power in their country.
The Troika not only are undermining democracy but are denying workers a voice. They do not communicate with trade unions, preferring instead to avoid them and provide only set responses. The Troika do not negotiate, but remain absolute in their demands. As the report by the ETUC showed, despite Greece and Portugal having reached a joint agreement, the Troika ignored their decision and continued with its own reforms despite a majority of people disagreeing with them.
This aggressive, anti-union, undemocratic approach has led to a weakening of many systems that the IER believes in, particularly collective bargaining rights, and systems of social protection. This is unacceptable. As the report itself clearly shows, the economic indicators in the countries affected, show that the austerity measures taken by the Troika do not work and additionally, that attacks on collective bargaining are futile and have only lead to additional problems.
In the IER’s publication A Manifesto for Collective Bargaining, in particular chapter seven, Hendy and Ewing describe the effects that the Troika has had on collective bargaining. As described in the book, “The Troika sees radical decentralisation as the blueprint for reconstructing collective bargaining systems in Europe.” The Troika’s strategy includes four main constituents, which as the publication states, varies from country to country.
Termination of national level collective agreements is one strand of the Troika’s strategy, which has resulted in the Troika cutting the minimum wage in countries such as in Greece by over 20% a move condemned by organisations such as the ILO. This also interferers with collective bargaining and is causing many of their not only Greece’s but many other countries problems, it is also a violation of fundamental trade union and workers rights as protected by various ILO Conventions and European Treaties.
Another stand of the Troika’s strategy is the, ” dismantlement of the trade union monopoly over negotiating on terms and conditions and the granting of scope for non-union employee organisations and employee groups to conclude workplace collective agreements. Decentralised wage setting confronts small and medium-sized enterprises with the problem that there might not be a trade union negotiating partner at the workplace. Despite this, and in order to permit workplace derogations from industry-level agreements, in some countries, including Greece, Spain and Portugal, negotiating rights have been granted to non-union employee groups. The consequences of the strategy of radical decentralisation advocated by the Troika are already evident. Systems of collective bargaining that were once robust have been systematically eroded and destroyed.”
For more information on collective bargaining and the effects of the Troika, please refer to our publication.
These attacks by the Troika have meant that the economy, employment, salaries and social protection has greatly declined, leaving inequality, unemployment and poverty to increase greatly. And despite these extremist measures, the Troika policy has systematically failed to reduce public debt in these countries or deliver any signs of growth.
It is clear that the Troika policies are not working and their scope for intervention needs to be abolished soon. Their policies promote social inequality, put workers at risk and undermine many important aspects of our society such as democracy and collective bargaining.
If you are interested in the subject of collective bargaining we urge you to keep an close look on our website as the IER will soon be releasing dates of a regional tour aimed at promoting our collective bargaining proposals.