Dijsselscrooge: Greece attacked for paying Christmas bonuses to pensioners

Greece’s pensioners had been promised a Christmas bonus. The bonus would be paid to anyone whose income is below €800 a month. However, Greece's creditors have suspended the latest debt relief deal in response to the move, threatening to plunge the country still further into unresolvable crisis.  Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads the Eurogroup and is the Netherlands’ Finance Minister, tweeted on 14 December that recent measures announced by the Greek government "appear to not be in line with our agreements."

The Greek government has calculated that the bonuses would cost a mere €617 million. The creditors who are refusing to endorse the payments are the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). They argue that the bonuses mean that the programme agreed with the Greek government – which of course had a very large pistol being held to its head at the time - was not being respected. Agreed debt relief should therefore be frozen. The IMF, for its part, has already criticised the agreement, saying that the EU is putting demands on Greece for budget surpluses which will be impossible for the country to meet.

Greece is already on the naughty step for failing to meet demands for “labour market reform”, EU-speak for destroying working people’s employment rights.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s salary as the Netherlands’ Finance Minister is over €170,000 p.a. This is more than 212 times as much as the best off of those Greek pensioners whom he is determined to deprive of their Christmas bonuses.   Between 2008 and 2015 member states paid out more than €1.5 trillion to banks.

Of course, all of this is perfectly fair. It’s perfectly fair that a man who earns  over two hundred times what the best-off of those who would have qualified for the bonus are paid can stop the bonuses. The fact that he wants to do so does not demonstrate that he is in his post to defend privilege, or that he is a neoliberal racketeer.

It’s perfectly fair that bankers get massive bonuses but pensioners aren’t allowed a bonus that wouldn’t cover what Dijsselbloem would regard as a decent meal.

We are simply typically ignorant leftists who are not well-educated enough to be able to understand why.            

We must do better.  


Steve McGiffen is Spectrezine’s editor and he is very, very angry indeed.