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AltAusterity Digest #38 March 8-14, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Mar 17, 2018

Speaking at the European Parliament this week, Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa listed the economic successes of his government’s anti-austerity agenda. Among these achievements are the country’s fastest economic growth since the start of the century, reduced inequality, increasing employment, and lower budget deficits. He also pointed to the need for the affirmation of sovereign democracy to restore trust in the institutions of the European Union. Costa said that the main aim of the Eurozone going forward should be investment, arguing that a tax and spend approach could maintain stability in the face of external shocks.

Chile’s new government under Conservative President Sebastian Pinera has called for a return to “fiscal equilibrium” to fight stagnation. The new government has inherited a slightly larger-than-expected deficit of 2.1%, rather than the estimated 1.7%. While Congress has authorized an increased in public spending of 3.9%, Pinera has criticized this rise as being “high.” Finance Minister Felipe Larrain said Monday that one of the first steps will be to simplify the tax code.

Academic workers in the UK are into the fourth week of their strike. On Tuesday, the most recent deal was overwhelmingly voted down by members of the University and College Union (UCU) which has been negotiating for over 60 universities. One of the main issues in bargaining is the employers’ plans to shift pensions from a defined benefit scheme to a defined contribution scheme. The employer, Universities UK (UUK), says that this is necessary because Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is £6.1bn in deficit. The UCU disputed this claim, saying the fund is performing adequately.

The Manitoba government is looking into the privatizing provincial air services, including wildfire suppression and air ambulance services. Progressive Conservative Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler has stated that Manitobans could get better value-for-money through privatization. Jean-Guy Bourgeois, spokesperson for the union representing the province’s pilots expressed doubts that the privatization would save money. He stated that privatization did save money, that it would be a reason for concern, pointing out that profits should not be a consideration when dealing when life-saving services.

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!