Socialist Worker

Greek student movement fights neoliberal privatisation plans

by Nikos Loudos, Panteion University, Athens
Issue No. 2034

Students surrounded the parliament building as part of their campaign against privatisation and fees

Students surrounded the parliament building as part of their campaign against privatisation and fees

Some 240 university departments across Greece are being occupied by their students in a wave of action that is threatening to derail the right wing New Democracy government.

The protests are in response to plans to allow private, fee paying universities to enter the system.

As parliament was due to discuss the changes on Wednesday of last week, thousands of students surrounded the building from noon until after 9pm. Across Greece there were similar demonstrations.

The teachers’ and lecturers’ unions organised a 24-hour strike, while civil servants, health workers and local government workers held four-hour stoppages in support.

The government brought forward the plan for the universities in the knowledge that they would be supported by Pasok, the Greek centre left party. Both parties are committed to neoliberal reform of the education system.

However, the scale of the protests has forced a number of Pasok MPs to declare themselves against the plan and big splits are opening up in Pasok as a result.

Lecture theatres are alive with political debate that goes well beyond the immediate threats to the education system to question the entire agenda of the government.

If the government’s plans are stopped by the students, the rest of its privatisation policies are threatened and there may have to be a new election.

The fight over the future of higher education has become a key struggle for the working class. A victory over this issue would be a big defeat for the forces that back a neoliberal Greece.

Anger at deportation threat

Thousands of supporters of the Greek Stop the War Coalition and the Pakistani community joined a demonstration in support of Javed Aslam.

Javed helped uncover the scandal of Greek and British secret police conspiring to kidnap Greek Pakistanis sought in connection with the 7 July 2005 bombings in London (Tortured as MI6 watched, 7 January 2006).

Now the Greek government wants to punish Javed by attempting to deport him to Pakistan. Javed is out on bail after the Greek TUC agreed to pay £20,000 in bail money.

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Article information

Sat 20 Jan 2007, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2034
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