A coordinated attack on workers’ rights, pension rights, and the right to healthcare and housing is being waged on ordinary working people across Europe by their governments. This was the consensus this afternoon in a GUE/NGL meeting between MEPs and guest speakers in Athens.

GUE/NGL MEP Thomas Händel spoke of the problems that surround a severe reduction in labour standards as increasing numbers of people across Europe are now in precarious work.

MEP Händel said: “Over the last 8 years of the crisis we have seen the number of people who live below the poverty line double: 150 million people altogether. In all member states of the EU today more than half of those employed face irregular employment conditions: flexible and short-term contracts, for example. EU leaders speak of improving international competitiveness and reducing deficits and the result has been a destruction of labour rights and the social system.”

Lia Frangou, from Piraeus Workers’ Centre, described how governments are attempting to undermine our trade union model by undermining the idea of collective bargaining and through cutting wages.

She said: “With no collective bargaining it is much easier for employers to intervene and influence things. It’s law of the jungle. If people stop standing up for workers’ rights we will lose sight of them forever.”

GUE/NGL MEP Alda Sousa outlined the situation in Portugal: “Although cuts to salaries and pensions have been deemed a violation of the constitution by the Portuguese constitutional court, the Troika and the Portuguese government have continued on this path anyway. What is at risk here are all the important rights that have been achieved through struggle. Trade unions must be able to break with the tradition of just looking after those who are on fixed contracts.”

On housing rights, Spanish MEP Willy Meyer said: “It is important for people to see that there are people working for alternatives to neoliberalism. It is purely irrational that this type of system continues to survive. Banks continue to use housing, which should be a fundamental right, as a way to make profit.”

Andalucian Minister of Public Works and Housing Elena Cortes Jimenez, said: “We can’t stand for evictions. We need protection for individuals who have been evicted. Eviction policies contain no concept of social justice. The Troika is bypassing the democratic wish of people by stopping democratic alternatives to the right to housing such as the law on the social function of housing as proposed by the government of Andalusia. Over 400,000 households have been evicted in Spain. Housing cannot be a marketable good.”

Greek MP Rena Dourou said: “In Greece there are lots of levies put on people for no other reason than to make profit. People have to pay just to have a roof over their heads. Property taxes are state robbery. There is a danger that we are moving away from all the values of the EU in terms of property rights. The state has a duty to provide housing.”

GUE/NGL Press Contact in Athens:
Emily Macintosh +32 470 85 05 08
[email protected]
European United Left / Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group

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