Tuesday, July 14, 2015

IMF says Greece needs debt relief over bailout; Biggest crackdown on UK trade unions in 30 years; Climate change, Daesh top global worry list

1 IMF says Greece needs debt relief over bailout (BBC) The International Monetary Fund has attacked the bailout deal offered by eurozone leaders to Greece. The creditor said Greece's public debt had become "highly unsustainable" and it needed relief from its debts.

The IMF suggested options including writing down the debt - a move most fiercely resisted by creditors. The Greek parliament must pass four pieces of legislation on Wednesday. It is the first requirement of the deal offered after hours of negotiation in Brussels on Monday.

The measures - which face resistance from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' own MPs - include taxation increases and pension curbs. Greece owes about 10% of its debt - €1.6bn to the IMF. It has missed two deadlines for repayment to the fund and is the first EU country ever to do so.

BBC economics editor Robert Peston says the IMF's assessment makes it much harder for Mr Tsipras to persuade the Athens parliament to back the measures needed in Wednesday's votes. It brings into question the validity of the reform measures demanded by the eurozone and endorses the kind of debt write-offs the Greek public have been arguing for.

2 Biggest crackdown on UK trade unions in 30 years (Patrick Wintour in The Guardian) The biggest crackdown on trade union rights for 30 years is being unveiled on Wednesday, including new plans to criminalise picketing, permit employers to hire strike-breaking agency staff and choke off the flow of union funds to the Labour party.

The scale of the reforms goes far wider than the previously trailed plan for strikes to be made unlawful unless 50% of those being asked to strike vote in the ballot. In a set of proposals on a par with those introduced by Norman Tebbit in 1985, Sajid Javid, the business secretary, is also to require that at least 40% of those asked to vote support the strike in most key public service.

In the case of 100 teachers asked to strike, the action would only be lawful if at least 50 teachers voted and 40 of them backed the strike. The double threshold would have to be met in any strike called in health, education, fire, transport, border security and energy sectors – including the Border Force and nuclear decommissioning.

The leader of the train drivers’ union Aslef, Mick Whelan, has likened the attack on union rights as resonant of fascist Germany. Paul Kenny, the GMB general secretary, warned the reforms would poison industrial relations in the UK since they removed all incentives for employers to heed their own workers and settle disputes.

Kenny said: “It is clear the Tory party high command intend to make the Labour party bankrupt by cutting off the main source of funding that they have relied on since the 1930s. This is aimed at undermining political campaigning by unions on behalf of their members and communities.”

3 Climate change, Daesh top list of global worries (Khaleej Times) Climate change is a big worry in Latin America, Asia and Africa, but Daesh spells more anxiety among Europeans and North Americans, a global opinion poll released suggests. The Pew Research Center in Washington said it interviewed 45,435 respondents in 40 countries to see what issues were most likely to keep them awake at night.

Sixty-one percent in Latin America identified climate change as their biggest worry, the highest proportion of any region. Concern was greatest in Peru and Brazil, running at 75 percent in both nations.

Fear of Daesh was shared by respondents in the Middle East, where 84 percent of Lebanese - including 90 percent of its Sunnis and 87 percent of its Shias - said they were very concerned by the group's proliferation. Sixty-two percent of respondents in Jordan and 54 percent in the Palestinian territories agreed with that concern.

Climate change was the top concern for 59 percent of Africans surveyed in nine countries, with fear expressed most frequently in Burkina Faso (79 percent), Uganda (74 percent) and Ghana (71 percent). In the Asia-Pacific region, a majority in half of the 10 countries surveyed identified climate change as the top issue, with the proportion running as high as 73 percent in India and 72 percent in the Philippines.

Daesh was also the leading worry in Europe, where 70 percent expressed serious concern about the threat that it represents. Sixty-eight percent of Americans and 58 percent of Canadians felt likewise, and Daesh was also the top concern for a majority of respondents in South Korea, Japan, Australia and Indonesia.

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