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The news hasn't been too good this week, has it?
Ongoing protests in Greece as a result of ever tightening austerity measures have turned violent (as may yet the public sector strikes, taking place over much of the UK today - and which may be the start of many, in protest against proposed changes to their pension schemes). Yesterday's announcement that the European Commission is indeed proposing a 5% increase in the next long-term EU budget - plus an extra �58bn in extra EU expenditure outside budget, saw me with my head in my hands.
What planet are our masters at the EC on?
We're all struggling and we're all having to tighten our belts, so why can't the EC see that it needs to do the same?
An email featured on the BBC's newsfeed covering the UK strikes says:
"I'm a civil servant striking today. I have seen my food bills increase two-fold while my pay is frozen and low. I am paying stupid high fuel bills and car tax bills because my car's old and don't have the money for a fuel efficient one. Scottish Power just sent me a letter telling me they want to charge me more. I'm sick of it. I don't care if I strike forever because my life would be better on the dole."
I agree with this civil servant that times are hard but they're hard for all of us - not just those in the public sector. How on earth are those 'on the dole', or even those on a low hourly rate, such as cleaners, be expected to pay for all these increases? And what about their pensions? At least if you're lucky enough to have a job, you have some hope.
I've heard that the additional burden for an average family of four in Greece, from the new austerity measures, would be some at €2,795 a year, which is, I gather, about the same as one month's income. That's an awfully large chunk out of the family budget, isn't it - and not one most of us would like to stomach?
According to Treasury estimates, the Commission's proposals would add £10bn to the UK's contribution to the EU budget over the seven-year period, and €100bn for all EU member states.
When times are tough it becomes more important that we all pull together. I hope that those in the UK public sector see that with us struggling to get back on our feet, the disruption they cause those who have to take time off from their own jobs because of the strikes, is damaging our fragile economy.
I would far rather we all work together to throw out the latest preposterous money grab proposed by the EC... that way we might all be better off in a few years' time!
30th June 2011