ATHENS – Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was working to make sure there are no defectors in his ruling Radical Left SYRIZA when a multi-bill goes to Parliament this week and includes measures to curb strikes by unions, cuts welfare benefits for families and continues to renege on campaign promises he made.
While out of power, Tsipras and his party vehemently defended the right to strike but said they have no choice but to follow orders from international creditors putting up a third rescue package, this one for 86 billion euros ($104.98 billion) he said he would never seek nor accept but did both.
Once again, there is alleged dissension in the ranks of SYRIZA where the supposed hard core Group of 53 faction has before barked concern or outright opposition to constant Tsipras reneging only to follow his orders and vote for it, saying they too had no choice.
SYRIZA MP Georgia Gennia to Tsipras wrote a letter expressing concern about the cuts in benefits for families, saying the worry was “justified,” but she quickly backed off when the contents were revealed and said she would follow orders to vote for the policy she doesn’t want and with which she disagrees.
This time the government, following demands from the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) wants to raise the bar to 50 percent of union members agreeing before a strike is called, from the 33 percent today. That has led to angry confrontations from workers, mostly the PAME Communist-affiliated union.
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said SYRIZA doesn’t want that change but has to do as its told, just as he did in agreeing to more austerity measures although he’s a Marxist economist who was opposed to it before also giving in.
But Labor Minister Effie Achtsioglou, who was confronted by the workers, stuck to her guns and said the measure would unify unions, at odds with what Tsipras and Tsakalotos said.
Prominent Comunist KKE MP Aleka Papariga, the former leader of the party, snickered that “SYRIZA didn’t have leftist DNA even when it was at 4 percent,” referring to the level at which the party was polling at the outset of the crisis.