Sunday, May 3, 2015

The "legislative work" of the government and the stance of KKE

The legislative adjustments the government has so far submitted to parliament -- above all the two Acts of Legislative Content, one stipulating the looting of available public funds, the other the deletion of up to 100% of fines for tax violations, including those involved in smuggling, of the major corporate groups -- lie within the strict framework of fiscal austerity imposed by the EU and the IMF (i.e, the lenders), so that competitiveness and the profitability of monopoly groups, of big capital, are protected.

Through such legislation, the government maintains the entire anti-labor, anti-popular framework that has been set in place by the Memorandum-related implementation laws of previous governments.

These are legislative adjustments that lag behind even the electoral program announced by SYRIZA in Thessaloniki, hence cutting down even on the few breadcrumbs intended for those living in conditions of extreme poverty. Not only is there no relief for the people, but essentially, the people is told to forget recovering what it has lost. 

At the same time, the government continues to refuse to bring to Parliament the agreement it made with the lenders on February 20. It is obvious that on the one hand, it wishes to avoid the image that would be created were New Democracy and the other parties of the bourgeois political system to support the agreement, and on the other, to avoid having the people see the measures in store for them -- measures they 've already dubbed "mild austerity", in the interests of capitalist profit recovery.

Up until Friday April 24, the Parliament has voted for 5 laws, among them the Act of Legislative Content on public funds. The related parliamentary committees had completed the discussion of two laws, expected to be tabled in front of the full parliamentary quorum,  while the second Act of Legislative Content is still in the phase of discussion in the parliamentary committee.

The Parliamentary Team of the KKE has very carefully examined the legislative adjustments of the government, both in toto and article-by-article, and has positioned itself every time on the basis of a single criterion: the defense of workers' and popular rights.

At the same time, the KKE has submitted amendments intended for the real relief of workers and popular strata for all legislation discussed until now. Yet these are always rejected by the government. The KKE has also submitted two law proposals. The first was submitted on February 25 and involves the "Abolition of Memoranda, Medium-Term Frameworks of Fiscal Strategy and Implementation Laws  -- Appeal Against Loan Agreements that Presuppose the Application of Memoranda." This proposal is still "pending" for discussion. The second law proposal was submitted on April 23 and involves the "Restoration of Minimum Wage, Restoration of the 13th and 14th Pension Installment, the 13th and 14th Wage Installment; Adjustments for Collective Bargaining Agreements and Abolition of Anti-Labor Laws".

"Response to the Humanitarian Crisis" tailored for capital

The first law of the government voted by the Parliament is now law 4320/2015, entitled "Immediate Measures for Coping with the Humanitarian Crisis." The stipulations of this law for "free provision and reconnection of electrical supply", food stipend, housing, etc., exclude the vast majority of workers' and popular homes, since they pertain to homes experiencing the most extreme poverty, stipulating a limit of 400 euro a month as family income; while even for families that are legally entitled, dignity in living conditions is not in the least guaranteed. On the "principle of the law" vote, the KKE voted "present", in order to highlight that this is a law stipulating breadcrumbs for the most extreme poverty, far behind the stipulations even of the Thessaloniki program (as the 1.4 billion euro stipulated by that program has been cut down to 200 million euro in the law), so capitalist profit is not obstructed. Up to the last moment, KKE MPs exerted pressure for canceling restrictions that excluded the majority of families living under inhuman circumstances.

The KKE voted in support of article 1: "On the free reconnection and provision of electrical supply"; article 2: "rent stipend";  article 3 "food stipend"; and article 4: "these three provisions also pertain to those already receiving benefits in humanitarian aid programs".

"Restarting the economy", i.e., stipulations in the interests of corporate groups

The law entitled "Adjustments for the restarting of the economy" has been speedily voted for and is now law 4321/2015. This is a legislative adjustment whose character is clearly related to cashing in on private debt. The government introduced a stipulation that allows for 100 installments in order to receive in full all the debts incurred by Memoranda and implementation laws to worker and popular households. That is to say, it fully legitimates all the unbearable burdens imposed by previous governments. The same law stipulates the adjustment of debt also for those owing above 1 million euro, i.e., for major businessmen.

The KKE voted against this law; however, it voted in support of articles containing even a paragraph that was positive for popular rights, like article 20, which relates to reducing prison sentences for small debtors, or article 30, on the abolition of fines for debt to Insurance Funds incurred by the self-employed and small businessmen.

The penal system falls victim to fiscal austerity

The KKE voted "present" in the vote on the legal principle of the legislation concerning the abolition of "C Block" type prisons and the reduction of the numbers of incarcerated people. It made clear that despite the very few positive adjustments it contains, the law follows the beaten path of previous governments in pursuing an artificial reduction in the number of the incarcerated to relieve the prison system, which actually recycles the problem. The KKE highlighted that in the name of fiscal austerity the government fully retains the situation prevailing in the penal system, that is, the lack of resources, infrastructure, personnel, and real care for the social reintegration of prisoners.

Two Acts of Legislative Content in a few days

The Act of Legislative Content pertaining to the looting of public funds, ratified by Parliament through a "fast track" process was not only voted against by the KKE, but the party demanded a name-by-name vote, so that every MP becomes accountable for the raiding of the funds of organizations under state supervision (from Organizations of Local Self-Government to universities, hospitals and childrens' daycare centers). It is worth noting that while this Act allowing for the raiding of funds was being voted on, the government submitted to Parliament a second Act of Legislative Content, stipulating the giving away of up to 100% of the fines incurred by big business for tax fraud. This Act has already been implemented since March!

The National Broadcasting Corporation as instrument of government policy

On Tuesday, April 28, the full Parliamentary Quorum voted on the Law concerning the NBC (ERT), the stipulations of which place ERT under the full control of the government, provide for "multiple track" employees, contracts with private business, etc. The KKE voted "present" exclusively because it supports the return, even though it is a partial return, of ERT employees.


Rejected outright

The government has rejected every single amendment the KKE has submitted for the legislation that has been approved by Parliament.

It submitted four amendments for the legislation on the "humanitarian crisis". They pertained to the abolition of debt to the Electricity Company for families living in conditions of poverty and the increase of free electricity provision; the provision of free and full medical and hospital care for all, and without stipulations and conditions; the provision of one free meal daily to students in primary and secondary education, on care of the state budget; the abolition of debt to Public Welfare Services (electricity, telephone, water, heating) incurred by School Governing Boards and by Universities and Technical Institutes. The government rejected all of them, including the provision of a single meal daily to students!

Regarding the legislation for debts past payment date, the KKE introduced an amendment stipulating the "haircut" of the debts of workers' and popular households that derive from antipopular forms of extraordinary taxation, as well as debts created by the special property tax.

Regarding the legislation on C-Block type prisons, the KKE submitted an amendment for the abolition of toll booths and the suspension of all persecution and of fines imposed for those who did not pay and who struggled against the imposition of highway tolling. It was rejected.

Regarding the legislation οn ERT, the KKE submitted an amendment stipulating the abolition of the Act of Legislative Content of the previous government, which shut ERT down, as well as the full restoration of the function of ERT in the full spectrum of its activities, as SYRIZAt had promised to do on 11 June 2013. It was rejected.

The KKE has also submitted a series of amendments for laws expected to come to Parliament for ratification. For the law on the "Democratization of Public Administration" alone, it has submitted 14 amendments, concerning the return of all suspended educators to schools, the abolition of the measure of civil impressment, the immediate conversion of contracts for school cleaners to contracts of indefinite duration, the immediate rehiring of the cleaners at the Ministry of Finance, etc.

The sum of the "legislative work" of the government so far makes clear that the people must organize their struggle and counter-attack in order to restore their huge losses, to fulfill their contemporary and broad needs, and to achieve ruptures that need to reach up to the level of power itself.

Α. Ζ.

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