Intl Trade Union Body: IMF, EU Messed Up Bulgarian Economy

Business » FINANCE | October 10, 2012, Wednesday // 15:17
Bulgaria: Intl Trade Union Body: IMF, EU Messed Up Bulgarian Economy Bulgaria's major economic indicators prior to 2012. Table from ITUC Frontlines Report 2012

Bulgaria's economy has suffered tremendously from the austerity recommendations of the International Monetary Fund and the European Union in recent years, according to a report of the International Trade Union Confederation.

The ITUC Frontlines 2012 report gives an over view of global economic conditions and a snapshot of six countries including Bulgaria, Dominican Republic, Greece, Indonesia, Nepal, Zambia where growth, jobs and workers' rights are in sharp decline.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC, said the rise in attacks on working people stem from a crisis of political leadership where the interests of banks and financial institutions are put before people.

"Trillions of taxpayer dollars have been transferred to banks in direct grants or guarantees, while working people have had their wages and benefits slashed," she declared in the report.

"International financial organisations including the IMF have focused their attentions on fiscal consolidation, with no regard for how this affects working people who have lost their jobs and had their wages slashed," Burrow added.

"From Greece to Indonesia people are taking to the streets to show their anger. If we do not reverse these attacks on workers' rights, we will see more political instability and social unrest," said Sharan Burrow.

"Five years since the first signs of the global economic crisis emerged, the democratic contract with voters has been broken in many countries. 58% of the general public in the ITUC global poll think their country is going in the wrong direction, and 67% do not think that voters have enough influence over economic decisions," elaborated the ITUC Secretary General.

The report claims to debunk myths promoted by advocates of austerity saying that Greece, total government expenditure as a percentage of GDP was constantly below the EU 15 average between 2001 and 2007, and that Bulgaria, which has implemented all of the flexible working conditions promoted by the IMF, has some of the worst rates of poverty in Europe, and 25% of homes have no flushing toilet.

"Bulgaria provides stark evidence that an eco­nomic strategy based on low wages and labour market flexibility will fail. For more than a decade Bulgaria has been encouraged to pur­sue such a strategy by both the IMF and the European Union. Unfortunately the country closely followed this guidance resulting in catastrophic consequences. Within the EU Bulgaria has endured one of the worst labor market performances since the onset of the global economic crisis despite having by far the lowest wages and one of the most flexible labour markets in the region. Living and work­ing conditions in Bulgaria remain at levels that should not be tolerated in the EU," the ITUC report states in its section on Bulgaria.

"The Bulgaria record demonstrates that the draconian labour market reforms being forced on workers in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and other peripheral countries in Europe are misplaced. Bulgaria requires a significant reversal in its economic and social policy. It must move ur­gently from a "low road" to a "high road" strat­egy by encouraging investment in more pro­ductive and better paying industries. To do so requires investment in physical infrastructure and human capital development as well as a comprehensive industry policy. It also requires a significant boost to wages and social benefits plus an expansion of collective bargaining. Bulgaria is fortunate to have the fiscal space to make such critical investments if the political will can be mustered," it elaborates further.

The ITUC is calling on the IMF and international financial organizations to halt their attacks on workers' rights and recognize that advice to deregulate labour markets is causing deep economic, social and political damage.

Full Text of the ITUC Frontlines 2012 Report Section on Bulgaria READ HERE

??Full Text of the ITUC Frontlines 2012 Reprot is available in PDF Format HERE

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Tags: ITUC, International Trade Union Confederation, Bulgarian economy, labor market, unemployment, productivity, trade unions, syndicates, workers, greece, Indonesia, Nepal, Zambia, greece, IMF, International Monetary Fund, EU, European Union, austerity, austerity measures, budget deficit, deficit, GDP, Sharan Burrow
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