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AltAusterity Digest #29 January 4-10, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Jan 12, 2018

Widespread anti-austerity protests in Tunisia have left one person dead and multiple people injured. The protests erupted following the government’s decision to implement the 2018 budgets higher fuel prices and taxes related to housing. These reforms come after Tunisia reached a four-year loan programme worth $2.8bn with the International Monetary Fund. Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has responded by calling for patience – explaining the economy will improve this year.

On January 9th, Greek demonstrators occupied the country’s labour ministry and confronted Greek Labour Minister Effie Achtsioglou about recent moves to restrict the right to strike. This condition was set by international creditors in exchange for bailout funds. The militant PAME trade union led about 500 protestors to the ministry in central Athens, where they used crowbars to open metal shutters to gain access to the building. About 50 protestors came face to face with Minister Achtsioglou and demanded the restrictions on the right to strike be removed.

In response to the January minimum wage hike to $14 an hour in Ontario, workers at nearly a dozen Tim Hortons franchises have seen their benefits cut. Workers paid breaks and free shift drinks have been taken away in an attempt for owners to regain some of the costs associated with a higher wage. While Tim Horton’s parent company – Restaurant Brands International (RBI) – claimed this was the work of a few “rogue” franchises, Tim Hortons Corporate office has declined to comment on the issue.

In a move that reversed its supposed commitment to austerity, Saudi Arabia has implemented a stimulus package of $13bn (2% of GDP). The research firm Capital Economic claims that the move may have come with the Saudi government being unsettled by recent events in Iran, which saw protests partially triggered by rising prices and high youth unemployment. Similar protests in Saudi Arabia would be problematic, especially concerning its dismal human rights record, including arbitrary arrests, trials and convictions of peaceful dissidents.

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation!