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Greece's Weakened Workforce Starts To Crack

According to GSEE researchers, two-thirds of employees in the private sector no longer receive regular pay. Adding to these problems are the large increases in taxes that Greeks have to pay.

Struggling to pay down debts, The government's latest austerity measures include an overhaul of tax rules, axing deductions used by most families â¿¿ for having children, mortgages on first homes, life insurance and some education expenses.

Most people earning up to ⿬25,000 ($33,425) a year will see a small decrease in their income tax bill, but everyone above that level will see an increase. Someone earning ⿬35,000, for example, previously paid ⿬7,070 in taxes per year but will now pay ⿬8,050.

Meanwhile, further charges were levied on electricity bills, with households that failed to pay disconnected from the power grid. And another round of tax hikes took effect this year.

That pressure is pushing Greece toward a tipping point at which too many demands placed on a shrinking tax base, argues Savas Robolis, a professor of economics and public policy at Panteion University in Athens and lead researcher at the GSEE union.

According to government data analyzed by the GSEE, 3.6 million people out of a population of 11 million are working, with 1.6 million employed by private-sector companies â¿¿ that's down from around 2.5 million before the crisis broke in 2010.

"Out of them, about 600,000 are left who still work an eight-hour day and are paid regularly," Robolis says. "The remainder â¿¿ a million workers â¿¿ have had their hours cut or are getting paid late, four or five months late. They are in a state of desperation."

"In other words, Greek workers and unemployed people may soon not have enough money left to pay taxes while covering their basic needs. If that happens, it would be the worst possible outcome for the Greek economy and Greek society."

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