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Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Those lazy Greeks!"

The Imperial media is spreading the lie that Greek workers are lazy and overpaid. The reality is, of course, very far from that insulting propaganda:

Greeks work on average 42 hours per week, while the EU average is 40.3 and the Eurozone one is just 40 hours.

Private sector workers are also extremely underpaid in Greece: 803 euros per month, including taxes and social security payments. You get more than that in many EU countries for picking your nose! The lowest wages in the Eurozone are well ahead of those figures, at least 1400 euros in the Netherlands for example.

Pensioners only become such at ages slightly above the EU average, 61.4 vs. 61.1 years, but do so with pensions that, before the current draconian measures, were already insultingly low: 750 euros/month, while in the Netherlands is 3200 euros instead.

At least 30% of Greek workers are totally outside of the social security system anyhow, in a black market area that certainly does damage to the ability of the government to meet its social obligations and can only be harmful to workers themselves. In comparison the EU average is of 5-10%.

Greece public service (22.5% of workforce) is large in comparison with Germany (14%) but rather modest in comparison with other EU countries: 30% in France, 27% in the Netherlands, 20% in the UK.

The 13th and 14th month salaries are not any "extras" but just a method of dividing the yearly salary to stimulate consumerism in the holiday seasons. A similar method is common in Spain. The salary is anyhow defined in yearly terms and the only difference is that it is divided in 14 units instead of 12.

While the wages and working conditions in Greece are extremely low for EU standards, price have not stopped rising. Greek workers have to buy at German prices while having half the salary of Germans. A somewhat similar situation happens in Spain and other low wages Eurozone countries: it is the euro-prices which won't allow ever to lower salaries because after all, you want a salary to pay for your living, so it has to be big enough for that.

In Greece a packet of cereals costs on average 2.86 euros, while the same packet costs 1.89 euros in the UK (51% cheaper than in Greece) and in France 2.25 euros (27% cheaper). Greeks buy a toothbrush for 3.74 euros while in the UK the same toothbrush is sold for 2.46 euros (52% cheaper). A pack of soft drinks that costs 3.1 euros in Greece, costs 2.76 in Belgium, 2.3 in France and 2.68 in UK. The most prominent examples are a cup of coffee or tea: in Greece the average price is between 3 and 3.5 euros, more than twice the average in most European countries.

Greece does not need lower salaries, quite obviously. It needs cheaper prices if anything. You just can't lower salaries under the cost of living.

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