Tuesday, 8 November 2011

What's a Greek earn?

To misquote another Mancunian, last night the only thing I saw on Channel 4 was a Dispatches programme about the economic crisis in Greece.

It was a lot like one of those tabloid stories that consists of a bold claim in the headline that soon unravels when you read the story. While there was some mention of tax evasion by the rich and the siphoning off of public money by corrupt officials, the main thrust was that it was Greek workers who were to blame for the crisis.

Outrageous examples of the feather bedding our Greek brothers and sisters enjoy highlighted by the programme included retiring on a decent pension at a young enough age to enjoy it, earlier retirement for those doing heavy or dangerous work and being paid for working overtime. With crazy practices like that, no wonder Greece is in a mess.

There was also a sleight of hand in proclaiming loudly at the top of the programme that as a Greek bus driver earns about twice the average wage, that's the equivalent of £40,000. Near the end, it was quickly mentioned that as average wages in Greece are lower the difference - if there even is one - is much smaller than first suggested.

There was a quick mention of the collapse of the international banking system having something to do with Greece's sovereign debt crisis as banks hiked the interest rates on bonds they had issued but it was clearly a side issue compared to Greek workers receiving a living wage, decent pensions and overtime pay.

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