In this special series on debt, PSI explains why workers must better understand this economic phenomenon that appears to be removed from day-to-day life, but has direct impact on economic and social conditions of workers.
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When countries face debt crisis, public services are pushed into the firing line. Budgets are slashed, utilities privatised,`workers fired. Meanwhile, democratically elected governments are undermined by international creditors who often impose brutal - and illogical - provisions to ensure repayment.
Sovereign debt issues will likely affect the vast majority of workers in the world at some point in their life.
When these crises hit, public debt is often presented by journalists, politicians and business as the result of wasteful government spending, overpaid workers and welfare recipients like pensioners bleeding the country dry.
Each year since 1970 an average of 8 countries have faced a sovereign debt crisis, with each one affecting neighbouring countries and trading partners.
In reality it is usually workers, pensioners and users of public services who bear the brunt of debt restructuring through austerity, labour market deregulation and privatisation, even when it is not them who created the problem.
Most importantly workers and their unions need to understand when they are being lied to or mislead so they can engage in real social dialogue and defend our interests. To help do this, this special series on debt examines what happens when public spending leads to indebtedness, why indebtedness of the state is perceived to be a problem, what debt means for the sovereignty of the state and how this all impacts workers.
Debt Briefs - PDFs
Brief 1 - Rentier Capitalism and Debt
Brief 2 - The Business of Debt: What Workers and Unions Should Look Out For
Brief 3 - Sovereign Debt and Default: Why It Matters for Workers
Brief 4 - Debt Distress and Crisis: What Happens When it Hits?
Brief 5 - Fixing a Rigged System: Fairer Global Debt Rules