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AltAusterity Digest #39 March 15-21, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Mar 25, 2018

Last Friday, management officials at the U.S. Department of Education unilaterally imposed what they are calling a “collective bargaining agreement” on 3,900 federal employees. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), who represent the federal workers, have responded by filing a complaint with the Federal Labor Relations Authority on charges of union busting. Among the conditions within the imposed contract are measures to curtail union activity by taking away union office space and equipment and measures to remove paid leave for staffers who serve as union officers performing representational duties.

The European Commission has announced plans to increase taxes on big technology firms. The proposed 3% turnover tax follows recent criticisms that tech giants such as those in “GAFA” (Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon) pay too little in tax in Europe. The tax would apply to online revenue streams such as advertising, online trading, or the sale of user data. According to the Commission, the top tech firms pay an average tax rate of only 9.5% in the EU, compared to the 23.3% paid by traditional companies.

The Australian government is seeking Senate support for it’s proposal to reduce the company tax rate from 30% to 25% by 2026-2027. The Turnbull government has already secured four crossbench votes in support of the reform package. The Business Council of Australia has made a public commitment to invest tax savings domestically, making Australian business more “competitive,” but left-leaning think tank the Australia Institute has warned that a multi-billion dollar tax cut would be a threat to Australia’s revenue base.

The EU Court of Auditors has released a report identifying the “widespread shortcomings and limited benefits” of using Public Private Partnerships (P3s) for delivering public infrastructure. Among the shortcomings inefficient and ineffective spending, an undermining of value for money and transparency, and unbalanced risk-sharing arrangements. The study assessed 12 EU co-financed P3s in France, Greece, Ireland and Spain in which 7 of the 9 completed projects led to inefficiencies costing a calculated €7.8 billion and delays of up to 52 months.

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!