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AS I SEE THINGS: The Greece example

Brian M. Francis, [email protected]

AS I SEE THINGS: The Greece example

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IN A WORLD that has witnessed and continues to witness increasing globalisation of financial and other markets, it would be rather irresponsible of all of us to ignore economic events taking place in the international community.

There are two critical reasons why we in the Caribbean should never allow ourselves to become victims of inadequate knowledge of global economic phenomena.

First, as the calamitous allusions of the 2008 to 2009 global financial and economic crises confirm, our economies are not insulated from the rampages of bad policies in the advanced countries of this world.

Second, despite differences in resource endowments, physical and economic sizes, cultural and historical experiences and political and economic systems, there are always lessons to be learnt from other countries’ development strategies.

And so, the financial and economic problems facing Greece and the no vote registered in the recent referendum against continued austerity measures in that troubled country should be of tremendous significance for us in the Caribbean as we continue to march forward with the advancement of our own regional integration movement, the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

The importance of that vote for the region is perhaps best reflected in statements made by the Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras: “Today Greece has proved that democracy cannot be blackmailed; Greeks have made a brave choice, and one which will change the debate in Europe. I understand that voters have not given me a mandate against Europe, but a mandate for a sustainable solution.”

The prime minister also reminded all and sundry that the no vote is “not a mandate for rupture with Europe, but one for a strengthened negotiating position for Greece”.

Clearly, amidst all of the confusion and uncertainty in relation to the future of the euro and Greece’s own domestic economy, the prime minister is nonetheless sounding the alarm bell that he has no immediate plans for his country to exit the European Union. Moreover, he believes firmly that his people ought to see the outcome of the referendum as the foundation upon which the country could intensify its negotiating stance. Does this notion ring a bell whenever we reflect on issues that have emerged in various parts of the Caribbean in relation to the CSME? It should.

The no vote in Greece and the clear lessons there are to be learnt by us in the region, particularly in relation to how we act under the CSME, are no doubt quite enlivening. Equally so is the recent stance adopted by trade unions in Barbados in relation to several burning matters of an industrial relations nature and the eventual national strike that took place.

After so many years in a coma, it was a heartfelt development to see the trade unions once again standing up for the rights of the workers they represent and not being afraid to take decisive action against any employer that, in the views of the unions, has and continues insolently to violate workers’ rights.

Clearly, if the ongoing volatile situation in Greece and the audacious action by trade unions in Barbados in resistance and nobility of the rights of workers are not enlivening economic phenomena, then what else can be so categorised?


Email: [email protected]