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Greece: Koutatzi (Caritas), “People can’t take it anymore, austerity doesn’t pay off”

“It is not necessary to study economics to understand that if you have money you can spend it, but if you don’t, you can’t. People can’t take it anymore. From what we see, austerity doesn’t pay off”: denunciation made by Maria Koutatzi, in charge of the social policy sector of Caritas Greece, in an interview with SIR on the crisis striking Greece, still continuing after 7 years. From the data collected in 7 of the 11 Greek dioceses, with the help of the Research Office of Caritas Italy: average salaries went from 22,729 euros in 2009 to 18,411 euros in 2014, while the number of unemployed went from 402 thousand in the last quarter of 2008 to 1,175,000 in the last quarter of 2015. From 2010 to 2014, the purchasing power of the minimum legal salary went down by 24.9% for adult workers, and by 34.5% for youth until 25 years of age. At the same time, the percentage of workers risking poverty went up to 21.2%. In fact, the most frequent problem of Caritas people in Greece has been that of money poverty (80.2% of the total), followed by work problems (60.9%). According to Koutatzi, in this period, Greece “is going through a terrible crisis”. “We are a vulnerable country on which no investor would rely”, he says; adding that “the population is suffering more and more because of recession”. “All salaries are reduced to the minimum, and quite often there are no protections for workers, many of whom are off the books”, says Koutatzi, and elderly people “are trying to survive in spite of pension cuts, reaching 50-60%”.

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