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The course of the Greek economy and employment

The Greek economy maintained the highest yearly increases in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) compared to the corresponding Euro-zone average over the past four years. The cycle of capitalist crisis for the Greek economy was not synchronized with that of the EU. Most of the largest economies in the EU experienced a crisis in 2003. A large part of the total increase in the GDP was the result of a significant increase in construction due to Olympics building projects and those of Energy. The rates of increase in construction have already been reduced in 2004.

At the same time, there was a crisis in manufacturing in 13 out of its 22 branches, among which are branches that experienced dynamic development after 1994. A crisis occurred for the second continuous year (2002-2004) in the production of capital goods and was extended in 2003 to intermediate and durable consumer products. There was also a crisis in air transport and telecommunications.

Unemployment took on greater dimensions in exporting manufacturing branches with a low organic synthesis of capital such as textiles, clothing, and leather. As a result, in certain areas the concept of "deindustrialization" was reinforced and came to be considered as a unique Greek phenomenon. In this particular case, one must take into consideration the totality of the industrial production index and the re-organization of land-use corresponding to the concentration of production and the work force; e.g. the simultaneous increase in concentration in Attica overall and a shrinkage of industrial zones in Lavrio, in the 2nd district of Piraeus, in Thessaloniki and in Patra. A certain shrinkage in local production occurs due to the export of capital and the transport of productive investment e.g. from Macedonia, Patra to neighboring Balkan states with the cheapest work forces.

Restructuring in manufacturing occurred within different branches of production at the expense of branches such as textiles, clothing, and leather. This occurred following the lift of protection on domestic production after Greece joined the EU and the Greek market gradually opened up to competitive products from third countries. Bilateral agreements of the EU with other customs unions, as well as World Trade Federation agreements, were developed to promote EU penetration within corresponding areas such as Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Greek industry, especially manufacturing, became more exposed to the new conditions of capitalist competition. The relative delay in industrial development, the small size of the Greek economy, the legacy of military - political dependencies of the Greek state after the Second World War, the joining of Greece in the EEC and the formation of a united European market, weakened Greece's competitive position. The comparative delay in the development of enough branches with a high organic synthesis of capital and a high added value especially the share of industry in the GDP worsened even more in comparison to that of Portugal.

The accumulation and the concentration of capital in certain industrial branches and the strengthening of certain industrial groups was not enough to fully compensate for the shrinkage in other industrial branches and the destruction of smaller units.

The reduction in the share of the total Gross National Product (GNP) and the reduction in employment in manufacturing branches of low organic capital synthesis and agricultural production are in tune with the corresponding general trend of contemporary developed capitalism. The same is true for the increase in other industrial branches and sectors of the economy that are characterized as "services".

Bourgeoisie conceptions and statistics wrongly interpret the increase in employment in the "service industry sector" and its corresponding increase in economic activity in the total Gross National Product. It appears as a distortion of capitalist development in characteristically smaller and more delayed capitalist economies. Except for the methodological mistake to include in the definition of the "service sector» the primarily industrial branches of transport and telecommunications, the increase in employment in the service sector in Greece continues to follow the general trend of capitalist development.

The service sector in Greece holds the smallest share in the GDP (59%) compared to that of the EU (69.4%).

The commercialization of Education, Health and Welfare, Social Security, Athletics and Culture advanced at rapid rates.

Agricultural production is stagnant. In the period 1995-2003, the average yearly increase in its total gross value was negative. The result was that the Gross Domestic Agricultural Product in the total GDP was reduced from 9.1% in 1995 to 6% in 2003.

The protracted stagnation in agricultural production, which is institutionally safeguarded by quotas and co-responsibility levies, in combination with the increase in the market demand for agricultural production resulted in an agricultural trade deficit. The dependence on animal products, mainly from the EU, increased. It was accompanied by a tendency for the accumulation and concentration of agricultural production especially in branches that are not directly connected with agricultural land, such as livestock.

Accumulation remains low in comparison to the average of the "EU of 15". Productivity is equal to that of 44.6% of the corresponding EU average. Agricultural employment is four times that of the corresponding EU average. The total volume of paid labor in the agricultural economy is equal to that of 47.3% of the average of the "EU of 15."

During the twenty-year period, 1980-2000, 182,000 family farms were wiped out and the Agricultural Bank of Greece began the process of confiscating financial/property assets of a further 70,000 family farms. The New Democracy government measures regarding farmers' debts do not solve the problem; they do not inhibit this trend.

The revision of the Common Agricultural Policy and the agreements of the World Trade Federation will accelerate the rates of accumulation and concentration in Greek and EU agriculture, but generally they will be delayed in terms of the level of development of US capital accumulation.

The participation of Greece in the Euro-zone made difficult the use of currency policies in fiscal administration. The results of fiscal administration were worsened; an evident tendency even in the biggest and most powerful economies of the EU.

The import of commodities from the markets of countries in the East and the West is increasing, with the general agreements of freeing up the markets. The problems of shortages and public debt are being aggravated.

The course of Greek capitalist development and the corresponding developments in the EU confirm that the slogans regarding "conversion" and "a strong Greece" in the leading core of the EU are misleading. Uneven development within the framework of the EU is an indispensable element of its capitalist character.

The main goal of the Greek bourgeois state is to promote big domestic capital in the international capitalist market, even if it means long-term fiscal difficulties, even if the destruction of smaller and less competitive sections of domestic capital continues.

In the last 5 years, salary workers and self-employed businessmen with staff are the categories with a growth tendency. In addition, salaried work is the only category that presented a continuous tendency towards growth. Its contribution reached 59.9% of total employment and exceeded 2,430,000 million workers. The great majority of salary workers belong to the working class which includes unemployed and immigrants. Self-employed businessmen without staff were reduced by 27.5 thousand in 2003 that is by 2.65% in comparison to 1998, despite the fact that this annual reduction was interrupted during the two-year period 2002-2003. In the period 1998-2003 a trend of reduction in the number of employees in family enterprises by 106.6 thousands, that is 23.4%. A small increase was marked by self-employed businessmen with staff by 4.8 thousand, which is 1.6%.
  • The total number of employed in 2003, in comparison to 1998 showed a small increase of 105.3 thousand or 2%.
  • Part-time employment exceeds 11% in the private sector.
  • Agricultural employment between the two census counts 1991 and 1999-2000 was reduced by 14.6%.
  • A special characteristic of the past 15 year period for the Greek economy is that of the wave of economic immigrants.

Unemployment remained at a high level. It exceeded, based on recent statistics 12%. It took on mass dimensions in traditional industrial branches and areas, with the result for a one-sided and twisted conception of developments to be shaped. The concentration of employment in industry and mostly in manufacturing showed a complete and relative reduction by 27,000 or 10.5% in 2000 in comparison to 1994.

The anti-people policies in the restructuring of work relations are already taking hold in the public sector in Greece. There are different categories of workers: permanent, sections of permanent workers that participate in the administration of the Community Support Framework programs with higher salaries, 8-month contract employees, while part-time temporary work is being institutionalized.

The restructuring of the Public Sector demands a small number of well-paid public employees, capable of responding to the contemporary needs of the European Union market. At the same time, a greater institutional flexibility is necessary so that the administrative mechanism can use cheaper workers or sub-contract out to private capital.

It is connected as well to the modernization of repressive state mechanisms, with the intensification of police enforcement and the attack against bourgeoisie rights and freedoms. It is in compliance with the modernization in administrative and monetary and credit functions, necessary for the movement of capital through the markets.

Some of the more important characteristics of the position of working and people's forces in the otherwise prosperous for capital Greek economy are: the new downgrading of public Health, Education and Social Security, due to the greater commercialization in those corresponding sectors; the restriction of basic social control of prices in popular energy consumption, water supply, telecommunications and mass transport with the privatizations and the great cost of mass transport and the Olympic works due to bad construction and delays; the intensification of exploitation with the unfavorable settlement regarding the total time of paid work and its payment; the lack of certainty about employment, the high percentage of unemployment; the assimilation of the institution of local government in the policy of capitalist restructuring. The local government bodies directly promote the policies of privatization, the commercialization of social policies, of local works.

The negative situation is recorded as reflected by social indicators of bourgeois statistics e.g. the poverty level, protracted poverty, in the relationship between private and public funding for Education and Health, in available income, in the comparative level of the high cost of living, in the high debts of working class families.

The course of Greek capitalist development expresses a clear tendency to downgrade the peoples' income and conditions of work and living, in comparison to the capabilities of production, scientific-technological development and the contemporary needs that they create. The general tendency, the worsening of the position of the working class and an important part of the middle class strata in both relative and absolute terms is also manifested in Greece, especially with the promotion of capitalist restructuring.

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