At a recent hearing of the European Parliament, the European TUC presented the results of its investigations into the activities of officials from the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, known as the Troika, who are effectively running Governments in Cyprus, Greece, Ireland and Portugal.
The report shows that those countries where the Troika has implemented its deep austerity policies have paid a massive economic and social price, creating poverty and social upheaval.
The ETUC has demanded substantial changes to the existing austerity and de-regulation programmes (which include attacks on employment rights, social protection and collective bargaining) to ensure that the Troika’s policy of austerity and deregulation cannot be repeated in the future.
The report shows a systematic take over of these countries by the unelected Troika officials and notes that governments in these countries were left with no choice but to implement full austerity measures and the full list of the Troika’s demands.
Troika policy is based, says the report, on the twin pillars of massive fiscal austerity and deregulation of employment rights and collective bargaining systems.
There was little or no respect for social dialogue between employers and unions. The report says the Troika will not listen to trade unions, but only give “set responses” to issues raised by them.
Even worse, in those cases where social partners reached a joint agreement (such as Greece and Portugal), the Troika ignored these agreements and pushed through their own reform agenda which weakened or dismantled collective bargaining rights and systems of social protection.
The result of these policies are that the economy, jobs, wages and social protection have declined, unemployment, poverty and inequalities increased with little sign of recovery.
The ETUC report points out that Troika policy has been unable even to cap the increase in public debt and to restore to normality financial channels, with credit flows to help economies.
Among the dangers being created by Troika policies are the rise of right-wing nationalist parties and groups; the undermining of the European social dimension, which has underpinned the European Union for 60 years and anti EU sentiment among working people and trade unionists who have in the past steadfastly supported EU membership and institutions.
The effects of the activities and policies of the Troika should not be underestimated in the forthcoming European elections in these countries.