Socialist Worker

Greek workers say: ‘We won’t pay’

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2201

The movement against the austerity measures being imposed on the Greek people is gaining momentum – despite the deaths of three bank workers during a protest last week.

The fourth general strike this year against the huge cutbacks brought the country to a standstill on Wednesday of last week.

A 110 billion euro bail-out deal agreed with the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund is dependent on the implementation of harsh economic policies.

In Greece, this means that workers’ living standards have collapsed by 20 percent already this year as a result of the first wave of cuts.

This injustice has unleashed a wave of anger. Huge protests swept the country during the general strike, with more than 300,000 demonstrating in Athens alone.

Pasok is the ruling Labour-type party. Their betrayal has created a political crisis – supporters booed the leader of the Greek TUC at a general strike rally and attemped to storm parliament.

The next day three Pasok MPs refused to vote for the new cuts in parliament, and were expelled from the party.

The unions are planning another general strike when the pension reform bill, which will raise the retirement age, comes to parliament – which could be next week.

Dampen

All this has happened despite the government’s attempts to dampen down the movement after the deaths of three Marfin bank workers.

A fire broke out at the bank after the police attacked the demonstration on the day of the general strike.

While the government tried to blame the protesters, a Marfin worker released a statement revealing that managers had locked staff in the building and told them that if they struck they would be sacked.

The worker wrote, “The management of the bank strictly barred the employees from leaving today, even though they had persistently asked to from very early this morning.

“They forced the employees to lock up the doors and repeatedly confirmed over the phone that the building remained locked up throughout the day.

“They even blocked off the internet access to prevent the employees from communicating with the outside world.

“My co-workers lost their lives today by malice: the malice of Marfin Bank.”

Bank workers struck the next day, blaming the government and the bosses for the deaths.

“There was a lot of propaganda put out to try and create a climate of mourning and to discourage people from striking,” Panos Garganas, editor of the Workers Solidarity newspaper in Greece, told Socialist Worker.

“But it didn’t work. People are sad about the deaths but they blame the government for the situation. The protest at parliament on Thursday evening was big. The pressure is so intense that the political system is cracking.

“A political crisis is developing. Two of the Pasok MPs that were expelled are left wing and popular – Yiannis Dimaras and Sofia Sakorafa.

Split

“Most people believe there are many other MPs who feel the same way. And there is also a split in the right wing New Democracy party, which opposes the measures.

“Dora Bakoyannis, a leading figure and former foreign minister, voted for them and was expelled.

“Now different groups of workers – such as teachers and local authority workers – are discussing what to do next to continue their fights.

“There are arguments among the teachers, with the leadership saying that there shouldn’t be strikes in the exam period – while the left is saying that there should be more action.”


Solidarity sent from London

Around 80 people protested outside the Greek embassy in London last week as part of the international day of solidarity with Greek workers.

For the bank workers' full statement go to » Greek bank worker speaks out after Athens fire deaths


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.